The Nationalist Party has been served with a legal notice that it will be sued if it does not cancel the vote to co-opt Jean Pierre Debono into parliament.

In a judicial protest presented on Monday morning, two Gozitan voters said they would be considering a civil lawsuit if the party did not cancel the vote to elect Mr Debono and order a retake.

Mariella Mercieca and Daniel Cilia argued that the PN had violated electoral law, the spirit of the Constitution and its own party statute in the way it ran Saturday’s vote.

Mr Debono narrowly won a vote among PN executive committee members on Saturday to replace David Stellini in parliament, beating Gozitan lawyer Kevin Cutajar to the seat by just two votes.

A parliamentary motion to officially co-opt Mr Debono was scheduled for Monday, but sources told Times of Malta late on Sunday evening that the PN would be postponing it following an internal party rebellion.

Political operative Mr Debono has been accused by fellow party members of meddling with the list of eligible voters to ensure at least two ineligible people could cast a vote.

Mr Debono serves as the PN’s political coordinator and in that role is responsible for handling executive committee attendance records and voting lists, outgoing committee president Mark Anthony Sammut wrote on Sunday evening.

“The conflict of interest is clear,” he added.

Mr Sammut alleged that both Mr Stellini as well as party treasurer David Camilleri should not have been granted a vote in Saturday’s ballot.

The judicial protest filed on Monday goes one step further, arguing that both Mr Debono and his wife, MP Kristy Debono, should also have been barred from voting, to respect the PN’s statute, code of ethics and “general principles about conflict of interest”.

Saturday’s vote, the protest argues, also violated Maltese electoral law and went against the spirit of the Constitution.

The PN’s Gozo regional committee had on Saturday also argued that the party was in breach of the law, citing article 22 of the General Elections Act’s 13th schedule.

That schedule deals with co-opting rules and stipulates that when filling a vacated parliamentary seat, “regard shall be had to the representation as nearly as may be of the interests and opinions represented and held by the vacating member”.

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Mr Debono, who contested the 2017 general election on the 7th district, would not be representing 13th district voters disenfranchised by Mr Stellini’s resignation, the Gozo committee had argued.

 The judicial protest was signed by lawyer Damian Cassar and lawyer Amadeus Cachia from Franco Debono and Associates.

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