The Nationalist Party's administrative general council which will elect the party's executive including a new general secretary, is likely to meet either in June or July.

General secretary Joe Saliba, who yesterday confirmed he will be calling it a day, said the party usually held this council meeting in April but, because of the election and since this had to be preceded by another general council on the election itself, the session would probably be held in June or July.

The post Mr Saliba is vacating is likely to be contested by the owner of Watermelon Media and Communications Ltd and former Net Television head of news Pierre Portelli.

He said, when contacted yesterday, he was thinking about the possibility of running for the post after he was approached by several people within the party, including MPs, over the past two weeks.

"Several people, including MPs, have asked me to take this step. However, I think it is still too early to pronounce myself about it or to make a decision"

Mr Portelli was deeply involved in the PN's referendum and electoral campaigns in 2003 but has not been in the limelight since resigning from head of news in 2004. He was known to be critical of the party and the people who approached him mentioned this as a desirable quality for general secretary. "This is very encouraging. It shows that the people within the PN want the party to keep renewing itself," he said.

Another possible candidate is Beppe Fenech Adami, son of former PN leader and current President of the Republic, Eddie Fenech Adami. In spite of several attempts, he could not be contacted yesterday.

Other names being mentioned included those of the party's information director, Gordon Pisani, and that of the President of the party's general council, Victor Scerri. Both said they were not interested in the post.

Mr Pisani categorically denied he was interested, adding he would not be submitting his nomination.

"Although a lot has been written about my interest, no one has ever spoken to me... It is not true I am interested. At least not at the moment but I remain available to the party... Contesting the post of general secretary is something I have not even thought about," Dr Scerri said.

Before the June/July council meetings are held, it is likely that the party's new headquarters will be inaugurated. Mr Saliba has gone on record saying he would like to still be general secretary when the Prime Minister inaugurates the PN's new headquarters.

"I will work for the new headquarters to be inaugurated before then. No date has yet been set but the work is ready and it is very likely it will be opened by then... I worked on that project and would like to open it but this is just my wish," he said.

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