Simon Busuttil has assumed responsibility for his party's heavy defeat in the general election and announced his resignation. He said he has not decided yet whether he will resign from Parliament.
Deputy leaders Mario de Marco and Beppe Fenech Adami and the entire party administration are also stepping down a day after the PN suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Labour Party, the second in succession.
"The Nationalist Party needs new leadership. I will stay on until a new leader is elected and sworn in as Opposition leader," Dr Busuttil told a press conference at PN headquarters.
He said he was proud and privileged to have led the party and would leave the post with a clear conscience, having done all he could for it.
There was absolutely nothing more that I could have done
"There was absolutely nothing more that I could have done," Dr Busuttil said. This sentiment, he said, was also shared by the other members of the leadership.
He said he was happy that the PN was now in better shape compared to the time he took it over, both organisationally and financially. For example, he said, the PN managed to fund its electoral campaign without any debt.
He said he was proud of the way how the PN had during the electoral campaign transmitted the message that there was a different way to run the country, that there could be good governance with independent institutions.
The message was based on the values of honesty and integrity, something which the PN would continue to champion.
Dr Busuttil said that while respecting the outcome of the general election, he admitted to having been surprised by the result, having strongly believed in the PN message. The outcome of the election did not mean that what was wrong had become right, he said.
Dr Busuttil thanked all those who had helped him in any way, saying his actions were always motivated by his love for Malta.
When replying to questions, Dr Busuttil reiterated his call for independence of the national institutions and said he hoped the prime minister would now realise that people should not be ‘bought’ and the institutions should be allowed to be independent. He paid tribute to the media, underlining their role as a watchdog to the institutions.
He said the election should change nothing where the magisterial inquiries were concerned regarding Egrant and the allegations made against Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.
He hoped the magistrates would be allowed to work without interference.
Dr Busuttil has been PN leader since May 2013 when he won a leadership election to succeed Lawrence Gonzi, who stepped down after losing the election that year.
Dr Busuttil was previously an MEP. Having been elected in 2004 and 2009.
The party administration which resigned today includes Anne Fenech, president of the executive committee, Karol Aquilina president of the administrative council; Rosette Thake as general secretary and Paula Mifsud Bonnici as president of the PN general council.