Update 2: Debono says he will support anyone but Dr Gonzi

Had discussed situation with President seven months ago

Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas

The only way out of the current impasse is the Prime Minister's resignation, Nationalist MP Franco Debono told a news conference this afternoon.

Dr Debono, who earlier today told that that the Prime Minister's decisions yesterday were a reaction to statements he gave in the morning to, told journalists this afternoon that he will support anyone else but Dr Gonzi.

The only other way out of the current impasse, he said, is an election.

Dr Debono had been asking for a split in the Justice and Home Affairs Ministry, which he said the Prime Minister had promised by the end of last year.

As the year drew to a close, Dr Debono threatened the government he would withdraw his support for the government in Parliament if the Prime Minister's promise was not kept.

Yesterday afternoon, Dr Gonzi split the ministry and promoted three parliamentary secretaries to ministers. He also announced that cabinet would be rescinding the pay raises given in 2008.

Later, Dr Debono called for Dr Gonzi's resignation saying the decisions announced confirmed the government's mistakes over the past four years.

He also told that he agreed with Joseph Muscat's call for a confidence debate in Parliament and, he insisted, he would vote against the government.

When asked during the news conference to react to the fact that the Prime Minister tomorrow is going to hold a political meeting at Marsaxlokk, which is in his constituency and the numerous calls on facebook for people to show moral support to the Prime Minister, Dr Debono, in an almost sarcastic tone, said he hoped the Prime Minsiter would go to Marsalokk to tell residents that the power station will not be run on heavy fuel oil.

Dr Debono had advocated in Parliament that the power station should not run on heavy fuel oil.

The news conference, held in Parliament's library, lasted one-and-a-half hours.

Asked whether he wanted Dr Gonzi's place, Dr Debono's reply was "no". 

Dr Debono told this morning that the PM's decisions yesterday were a reaction to his statements.

"What the Prime Minister did not say on Xarabank yesterday evening is that the day did not start at 2 p.m.

"The day started in the morning when I told that the Prime Minister is being held hostage by a clique. This was what spurred the Prime Minister to take action. He did not have anything planned and his was a panic reaction."

Yesterday morning, Dr Debono told that he hoped Dr Gonzi was not being held hostage by a clique of individuals close to him, who thought they could bully others.

He told the news conference that Dr Gonzi's declarations on Xarabank were "irresponsible and disrespectful" to an elected MP who was telling him he was not ready to continue supporting him.

The Prime Minister had told Xarabank that he would not be seeking a vote of confidence and he would do his utmost for an election not to be held now but at the end of the government's term of office.

The MP revealed that he had discussed the situation with the President seven to eight months ago and the Prime Minister, he said, knew about this.

Asked whether there had been any mediation between him and the party since yesterday, Dr Debono said there was not. He had only received an SMS from Justice Minister Chris Said who asked him to work with him on the reform's.

"But I'm nobody's child," Dr Debono said.

Dr Debono said this morning the Prime Minister's actions yesterday were "child's play".

"First he said it was not true he had set himself a deadline, and then he splits the ministry only five days after the deadline he had set himself. Couldn't he had said that although he had not given a deadline but he would be splitting the ministry in the first week of the year, so as to avoid all the uncertainty and instability he created?"

Dr Debono said that he had been proved right by the Prime Minister's actions "but Dr Gonzi tried to give the impression that I had reacted to his actions when it was he who reacted to my declarations".

The issue of the honoraria, Dr Debono said, was another instance of the Prime Minister reacting to his statement.

For in the morning he (Dr Debono) had said that should he be offered the ministry, he still did not know whether or not he would accept it but what he definitely knew was that he would never accept the pay raise ministers had given themselves.

The pay raise, Dr Debono said, had not only been ill-timed it had also been a major insult to the autonomy and dignity of Parliament.

Cabinet had taken its decision behind Parliament's back and this was a "grave insult to the dignity of Parliament, the highest institution of the land".

Coupled with Dr Gonzi's disrespect to the will of the people in the referendum, everyone could see the attitude with which Dr Gonzi's had treated Parliament, Dr Debono said.


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