A group of 19 Nationalist MPs who voted against Adrian Delia as leader have once again appealed to him to reconsider their request and step aside, in the best interest of the party and country. 

They said, in a statement signed by MPs Chris Said and Therese Comodini Cachia on behalf of the group, that they were making the appeal because of their belief that the country needed a strong opposition.

It followed a meeting to discuss next steps after Delia lost a secret vote of confidence on Tuesday evening.

The MPs did not say whether they intended to go to President George Vella, who is constitutionally obliged to revoke the appointment of the leader of the opposition if he judges he has lost the support of MPs.

They said: “Yesterday’s vote was a difficult choice that the parliamentary group had to face. We want our country to regain normality, to regain its reputation and to re-establish itself as a democracy. For this reason, the country needs a strong opposition party. The Partit Nazzjonalista deserves the chance to regain people’s trust and become an alternative government."

They said that during several parliamentary group meetings held over the last months, Delia was repeatedly invited to continue contributing to the PN in a different role to that of leader.  

“We appeal to Adrian Delia to put first and foremost the Party and this country’s interests in these dire circumstances. We are as ever determined to continue to act in the best interest of the country and the Party. This is a call that wants to see the Partit Nazzjonalista regain its courage and trust in its values,” the MPs concluded.

'There's a process'

David Thake, one of the 19 MPs who voted against Delia on Tuesday night, indicated the opposition crisis might not be resolved swiftly.

Asked if he planned to go to the president on Wednesday evening, he said: “There’s a process that has to be carried out in its own time and we have to take that time to carry out this process.”

He said the vote had sent a “clear political message” that Delia “should consider the fact that he has lost the confidence of the majority of his parliamentary group.”

David Thake, one of the 19 to vote against leader Adrian Delia, said a clear message had been sent. Video: Ivan Martin

Under Article 90(4) of the Constitution, President George Vella is obliged to revoke the appointment of the leader of the opposition if he judges it has “ceased to command the support of the largest single group of members in opposition”. 

However, it’s not clear if Vella will choose to exercise his judgment on the basis of the secret vote or wait to be approached by the opposition MPs. Delia has vowed to stay on in the role and as leader of the party.

Future opposition leader

In their meeting on Wednesday, MPs also discussed who to nominate as a replacement opposition leader should Delia continue to refuse to step aside as party leader.

Said was mooted to be one of the favourites but ruled himself out on Wednesday afternoon. Claudio Grech is now understood to be among the preferred candidates

David Thake, one of the 19 MPs who voted against Delia on Tuesday night, indicated the opposition crisis might not be resolved swiftly.

‘No vacancy’

He reiterated that he was elected by thousands of party members and will remain as long as he has their trust.

Adrian Delia says he will remain as PN leader as long as he has the trust of party members. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Deputy leader David Agius, who confirmed that he was one of the 11 MPs who voted in support of Delia, said there was “no vacancy for the new leader of the opposition as yet”. 

'There is no vacancy for leader of the opposition', Nationalist deputy leader David Agius tells reporters. Video: Ivan Martin

He said: “I voted in his favour. The leader of opposition is the leader of the Nationalist Party as voted in by its own members and I have a lot of respect for that. When and if there we get to a process, as the party leader said yesterday, then we will act accordingly.”

Clyde Pulli, also thought to have backed Delia in Tuesday’s vote, also told reporters outside parliament there was no successor.

He said: “I don’t think there is an issue of succession at this point”.

Delia supporter Clyde Pulli says there is “no issue of succession”. Video: Ivan Martin

 

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