Francis Zammit Dimech will not recontest the role of Nationalist Party general secretary, having agreed to make way for new blood.

Zammit Dimech had previously publicly expressed his intention to see the party through to the next election as general secretary, one of the PN’s top posts.

However, sources said in recent weeks that the former minister had been encouraged by the PN’s leadership not to recontest the role as part of an attempt across the board to shake up key positions within the party.

Party sources told Times of Malta that PN leader Bernard Grech is keen for 26-year-old Michael Piccinino to take up the high-ranking post within the party structures.

If Piccinino does become general secretary, then he will be even younger than Louis Galea was when he assumed the role aged 29 in 1977.

The PN’s general secretary is responsible for running the party’s administration and the role is traditionally occupied by an experienced political operator.

Speaking to Times of Malta, Piccinino confirmed Grech had encouraged him to contest the role. Piccinino said it was a difficult decision to make but he was willing to throw his hat into the ring.

He said Zammit Dimech is also backing his candidature.

Piccinino was last November voted in as the PN’s organisational executive secretary, which is a junior role to general secretary.

“I have already been working together with Francis and have a good idea of what the general secretary role involves.”

Contacted by Times of Malta about the decision to step aside, Zammit Dimech said it was now time to pass on the baton.

Elections will be held next week to fill 18 posts

“I have already had the privilege to work with Michael. Both of us certainly know what is required in the interest of the party. I think this will be a very smooth and natural succession.”

Zammit Dimech said he will be keeping the party’s interests at heart and will be more than happy to offer advice whenever required. “I certainly wish him the very best,” Zammit Dimech said of his would-be successor.

Zammit Dimech said it was important for people to act in the best interests of the party rather than focusing on individual interests.

“Ultimately, politics is a mission to be of service to the nation, and the nation more than ever requires a very well-prepared Nationalist Party in the run-up to the general election,” he noted.

Elections will be held next week to fill 18 posts on the PN’s executive committee, during the party’s general council meeting.

Although Piccinino is already a member of the executive committee by virtue of his role as organisational executive secretary, he will nonetheless be contesting the election for one of the 18 posts up for grabs.

Piccinino said he is doing this to ensure he has the backing of PN councillors, who vote during the general council, prior to running for general secretary.

The general secretary and other top posts within the party will then be elected by the newly-composed executive committee.

It remains to be seen whether anyone else will contest the general secretary post, now it is widely known that Piccinino is the PN leader’s anointed one.

The move comes as part of a wider bid by Grech to shake up the party.

Times of Malta reported last month how MEP Roberta Metsola had turned down an approach by Grech to be parachuted into PN deputy leader David Agius’s role prior to the general election. 

The ploy would have necessitated Agius voluntarily stepping aside.

A similar desire exists to replace the PN’s other deputy leader, Robert Arrigo.

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