Updated 8.10pm, adds Prime Minister's comments
Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday he was in contact with former Xagħra mayor Christian Zammit, trying to resolve the issues that forced his resignation earlier on Thursday so that he could continue to serve as mayor as he had done so well in the last years.
In comments to the media, Abela said discussions with Zammit were still under way and he looked forward to welcoming him back to the party fold.
He said Zammit had environmental issues at heart and the Labour Party needed people like him to continue pushing environmental initiatives.
He added that Zammit was his personal friend and he still had a lot to contribute to the party.
Xagħra mayor Christian Zammit, an outspoken advocate on Gozo’s environment, resigned from the council and from all positions in the Labour Party, saying he is “getting out of the way”.
The resignation comes almost a year after he claimed in an interview with Times of Malta that there was a scaremongering campaign by the construction industry to “eliminate” him and it led to his dismal electoral show as a Labour Party candidate.
In a short letter to the council’s executive secretary, Zammit said he was resigning from mayor and councillor with immediate effect. He also sent a separate letter to the secretary of the Gozo Regional Committee where he informed him that he was resigning his position.
In a post on Facebook, Zammit wrote: “I am writing here to avoid any doubt. I have just resigned as mayor and councillor in the Xagħra Local Council, and president of the Labour Gozitan Regional Committee. Of course, this was a very difficult decision to make, considering that I have been active in the party and in politics for the last 23 years. However, there comes a time, when, as the Italians say, mi tolgo dai piedi, e tolgo il disturbo,” he wrote. That means he is getting out of the way not to be of any burden to others.
In his interview with Times of Malta, Zammit had claimed that Gozitans were being told he would stop development permits, eradicate apartment blocks and fifth-floor penthouses, slap strong fines for infringements and pinch their pockets.
In his post-election analysis, Zammit expressed frustration that he misread the island’s sentiment and that his anti-construction battle to safeguard the environment was “not relevant” to its population and was not reflected in votes.
The resignation comes days after another Labour pro-environment mayor, Gżira's Conrad Borg Manchè accused his party of betraying its socialist principles over plans to turn part of a public garden into a petrol station.
On Wednesday, the council won a court battle to stop the relocation of the fuel station.