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MW 14 June 2017

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maltatoday, WEDNESDAY, 14 JUNE 2017 News Busuttil stands by decision to resign PN leader appealed to those with reports of irregularities to come forward so that these can be investigated by the party YANNICK PACE NATIONALIST Party (PN) leader Simon Busuttil made clear yesterday that he was standing by his decision to resign the party leadership in the wake of the election result, and that a new leader would be elected in his stead. He was addressing party members at Sannat where he said it was incumbent on him to resign after the result of the election. The party rallied be- hind him after he announced his resignation, and there have been appeals for him to stay on. But he was adamant that a leadership election would be held. Busuttil said it was probable that the Labour Party had engaged in a number of vote- buying and corrupt practices in the election, adding how- ever that the PN would not be jumping to conclusions. "We will not be jumping to conclusions," said Busuttil. "What we will do is study and investigate all reports we re- ceive, and if there is proof of corrupt and therefore illegal activities, we will see to it that justice is done." He said that the PN was looking into reports of a large number of voters claiming to require help in voting. Moreover, he said that it had also been reported by Mal- taToday that over 1,000 jobs with the government and sub- contracted agencies had been dished out in the weeks before the election. "We will not let anyone steal votes. If not for this election for future elections," said Bu- suttil, who called on all those with information of corrupt practices to pass them on to the PN. Turning to the party's defeat at the polls, Busuttil said the result was unexpected and the only logical conclusion was for him to take political responsi- bility and resign. "I would like to confirm my decision, that the result re- quires me to take this deci- sion," he said, adding that he was aware that it was not what party activists wished for. "We must face reality, which requires me to be the first to step aside," he said, adding that the party must now start a process that will lead to it choosing a new leader. Busuttil explained that the party executive would be meeting next week to deter- mine how the process would work in practice. He said those interested in being PN leader would first need to submit an application, which would be vetted by the executive. The list, he said, would then be shortened to two candi- dates, one of whom those who have been paid up party mem- bers for at least two years, would have to choose as lead- er. "This idea was introduced so that the choice of who will be the party's leader will be in your hands," he told activists. Busuttil concluded by saying that the Labour Party winning the general election did not change the fact that the Prime Minster and his chief of staff were both the subject of mag- isterial inquiries. "I hope the government is not expecting what was a criminal act to now become good, and I hope there will also not be pressure on the judiciary," he said. Finally, Busuttil appealed to those present not to be intimi- dated when speaking about corruption. "What was a criminal of- fence remains a criminal of- fence and an election is not a washing machine for such of- fences," he insisted. Labour asks for inclusion of Partit Demokratiku in constitutional case over PN seats PN lawyers object to Labour's request for the inclusion of the PD in the lawsuit, arguing that the PD would not be affected by the outcome MATTHEW AGIUS THE Constitutional Court has ordered that the Nationalist Party (PN) be made a party to a lawsuit filed by the Labour Party (PL) against the Electoral Com- mission, in objection to the triggering of a Constitutional mechanism that allo- cated extra seats to the PN after the June 3 general election. The PL filed the Constitutional case last week in the wake of the Electoral Commission's decision to allocate two extra seats to the Nationalist Party. The PL had formally protested to the Commission, arguing that the Constitu- tional clause under which the allocation had been made did not apply, as there was now a third political party enjoying representation in Parliament. The PN however promised to "defend the will" of the Maltese electorate, as well as the Constitution. Since the PL filed its case against the Electoral Commission, lawyer Paul Borg Olivier said the PN was asking to be ad- mitted into the suit because the court's decision would have a direct effect on the PN and the two MPs elected under the mechanism. But no sooner had the court upheld this request, than the PN objected to a request by the PL's lawyer, Pawlu Lia, that the Partit Demokratiku (PD) also be included in the suit, with Borg Olivier making submissions which appeared to play down the PD's distinction from the Nationalist Party. "It is only fitting that the PD is also included in these proceedings," Lia had argued. The absence of the PD in these proceedings, once the PN had been ad- mitted to the suit, would effectively prej- udice the entire case, he argued. Borg Olivier and lawyer Karol Aquilina objected to the PL's request for the inclu- sion of the PD, arguing that the PD would not be affected by the outcome. "At no point will there be an impact on the PD... whether the court accepts or de- nies the plaintiff's requests," Borg Olivier said, but if the court upheld the request, it would only result in a negative effect solely on the PN. Not even in the pre-election Broadcast- ing Authority debates was the PD al- lowed airtime, they argued. The PD had contested under the PN banner, Borg Olivier argued: "There is no impact because the PD did not par- ticipate at any point in the electoral process. It made political statements, as had Alternattiva Demokratika and other NGOs, as had persons who did not con- test the elections." A distinction needed to be drawn be- tween what is said in public and partici- pation in elections, he argued. Borg Olivier submitted that part of the definition of a political party under the General Elections Act was that it "shall be any person or group contesting the election bearing the same name." "On no district did the PD contest the election [under a separate banner]," he said. On his part, Lia insisted that "[PD lead- er] Marlene Farrugia joined another par- ty because it was expedient to her, whilst maintaining a distinction between her party and the PN." "In view of the fact that the PN's written submissions had distinguished between the PN and the PD and the campaign had done the same... it is clear that the PD re- mained distinct to allow it to field candi- dates under its own banner," he said. The PN had publicly made its position clear in the electoral process and now that the process had ended the "Orange Party" would be taking its place in par- liament as the PD, Lia said. "It was already known, also to the Elec- toral Commission, that the MPs would be taking their place in parliament sepa- rately from the PN... they are two dis- tinct parties." Prof. Ian Refalo, on behalf of the Elec- toral Commission, submitted that the request for the inclusion of the PD was premature, as it dealt with the merits of the case. He insisted that juridical inter- est had to be proven before everything else. The question of the PD involvement is, to an extent, part of the central argument of the PL's case, he said. "This juridical interest must emerge from evidence." The court said that at this stage, in view of the urgency cited by both sides, as well as the national interest, it had to first de- cide on the addition of the PD to the suit, after which it would hear the evidence. The court scheduled the next sitting for tomorrow at 3pm. Simon Busuttil said it was probable that the Labour Party had engaged in a number of vote-buying and corrupt practices

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