The PN’s executive committee, its second-highest decision-making body, is set to tackle allegations being made against party leader Adrian Delia.
Plans to convene the committee to discuss the way forward were confirmed by its president Mark Anthony Sammut. No date has yet been set for the meeting.
The development comes 10 days after allegations of domestic violence, made against Dr Delia by his wife in separation proceedings, went public after the leak of court documents.
There have also been compromising leaks of audio and video files concerning Dr Delia, some in a domestic setting.
The developments are putting an enormous strain on the party, which is split across all levels, from parliamentary group down to the grassroots, over whether Dr Delia’s position is tenable and whether he should resign.
A defiant Dr Delia has vowed to stay, branding the accusations part of a plan to oust him by exploiting “private life” issues.
On Saturday, his communications officer replied to questions over a rumour that he has considered stepping down by saying that “Dr Delia has never submitted his resignation and has no intention of resigning from the position of Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the PN”.
Until Saturday there had been no sign that the party’s higher structures, which include the executive and administrative committees, had been brought into the picture, amid continued efforts by members of the leadership to play down the controversy.
However, now that the issue is set to go on the executive committee’s agenda, Dr Delia’s position cannot be considered safe.
Asked if the present situation was sustainable, especially with the European and council elections looming, Mr Sammut admitted that the allegations against Dr Delia were “very serious and should be addressed by the party organs”.
“I am awaiting that matters raised are addressed in the party organs and I will see that the executive committee is convened in due time, and we [will] then take it up from there,” he said.
The fact that two-thirds of the parliamentary group do not stick their necks out for Dr Delia carries huge significance
Far from adopting a business-as-usual attitude, the high-ranking party official admitted he was “very worried” about the situation.
“The allegations made, including sworn allegations, and footage circulating are very disturbing and some of the allegations are of a criminal nature,” he said.
Mr Sammut is among those in the party who subscribe to the view that this saga is doing the PN no good.
“The party should not be dragged into quarrels which are definitely harming it and which are outside of its control.”
Meanwhile, PN sources said that there is a growing sense of discontent even among those who until a few weeks ago were staunch supporters of Dr Delia.
Support from his parliamentary group is crucial. However, while none of them have gone public to express lack of confidence in him, only about eight of the 28 Nationalist MPs are so far known to have publicly pledged their support on Facebook.
The fact that two-thirds of the parliamentary group do not stick their necks out for Dr Delia in the circumstances carries huge significance
“The fact that two-thirds of the parliamentary group do not stick their necks out for Dr Delia in the circumstances carries huge significance,” one party source said, adding there was the remote possibility of entering uncharted territory in terms of the Constitution.
“We could be heading towards a situation in which the PN leader and the Opposition leader are two separate MPs. If that were to happen Dr Delia’s days at the helm of the party would be numbered.”
Article 90 of the Constitution states that if in the judgment of the President, “the Leader of the Opposition has ceased to command the support of the largest single group of members in Opposition to the Government, the President shall revoke the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition”.
“The party is no longer functioning. No wonder Dr Delia ranks as the PN leader who enjoyed the highest support ever among Labour Party ranks,” another source told this newspaper.
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