Updated at 10.40pm with Jean Pierre Debono reaction

Nationalist Party operative Jean Pierre Debono allowed two people to vote in an election he was contesting despite them not being eligible to do so, the party's outgoing executive committee president has implied. 

Mark Anthony Sammut said on Sunday evening that outgoing MP David Stellini and treasurer David Camilleri should both not have been allowed to vote in a Saturday ballot to decide who should replace Mr Stellini in parliament. 

Mark Anthony Sammut. Photo: FacebookMark Anthony Sammut. Photo: Facebook

The vote was won by Jean Pierre Debono, who beat Gozitan electoral candidate Kevin Cutajar by just two votes, 42 to 40. 

In a blistering Facebook post, Mr Sammut said that keeping track of executive committee member and attendance lists was Mr Debono's responsibility as PN political coordinator.  

Mr Camilleri had the right to attend the meeting but not to vote, Mr Sammut wrote.  Only one person could have added him to the voting list, he added. 

"Their conflict of interest is clear. The vote result is therefore invalid."

 

"It seems that not only did Gozitans have a parliamentary seat stolen from them," Mr Sammut wrote, "but it was stolen through deception". 

 

'Sammut is the deceptive one' - Debono

Mr Debono hit back with a Facebook post of his own in which he argued that it was Mr Sammut who was responsible for the list of eligible voters during Saturday's executive committee meeting.

"He knows he asked me for the list... and I told him I had nothing to do with the list or the election, since I was going to be directly involved in it. Mark Anthony Sammut knows that he did not get the list from me and that I did not compile it". 

 

'Fraud' - Jason Azzopardi

MP Jason Azzopardi subsequently posted a screenshot of a Microsoft Word document with what appeared to be a list of PN executive committee members, including Mr Stellini and Mr Camilleri. 

The screenshot showed that the document had last been edited on Thursday May 30 by a 'Jean Pierre Debono'. 

PN MPs had started publicly campaigning for lawyer and Gozitan candidate Kevin Cutajar to be co-opted into parliament on May 29

"This is proof that the list of executive committee voting members was drawn up by Jean Pierre Debono," Dr Azzopardi charged. 

 

Gozo committee turns on its own party leaders

Mr Sammut posted to Facebook on Sunday evening after reading that the PN's Gozo regional committee had written to the party's leadership asking them to cancel and re-run the vote. 

The committee's arguments hinged on the fact that Mr Stellini should not have voted, given that he had resigned from parliament last week, and that the Constitution stipulated that MPs replacing outgoing ones should mirror the interests of those they replaced. 

Gozitan PN members have said that Mr Stellini should be replaced by another Gozitan MP, while party leader Adrian Delia pushed for Jean Pierre Debono, arguing that the 7th district currently had no PN representative.

Mr Debono was elected on the 7th district in the 2017 general election but gave up his seat to allow Dr Delia, who assumed the party leadership after the election, to enter parliament. 

Tumultuous weekend

The Facebook post caps a tumultuous weekend for Mr Sammut, who presided over Saturday's executive committee meeting but informed his colleagues that he was quitting the role he had assumed in November 2017. 

Mark Anthony Sammut reads a statement after quitting as PN executive committee president on Saturday.

"I took the decision after the worst electoral loss in the PN’s history... The rest of the administration should step down," he told reporters after the meeting.

"Whatever mandate party members gave us is now irrelevant," he said. 

"The reality is that there's a climate of fear inside the party. People are afraid of speaking up because they'll be branded a traitor". 

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