PN to have witness list tomorrow
Joe Saliba ‘key to PN unity’
Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando will tomorrow present his party with a list of witnesses, which he claims will “corroborate” his allegations against Malta’s outgoing EU Ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana.
This move coincides with Mr Cachia Caruana’s last day as Malta’s permanent representative in Brussels, following an Opposition motion calling for his resignation approved by Parliament with Dr Pullicino Orlando’s backing.
Mr Cachia Caruana was accused of bypassing Parliament on Malta’s reactivation of Partnership for Peace membership.
However, Dr Pullicino Orlando then claimed that Mr Cachia Caruana colluded with high-ranking officials from the 1996-1998 Labour government to “feather his nest” and cause harm to PN officials.
Mr Cachia Caruana has dismissed the allegations – which Dr Pullicino Orlando believes should result in his expulsion from the party – as “ridiculous”.
Though Dr Pullicino Orlando will be presenting his list of witnesses tomorrow, they will not testify at the PN executive meeting to be held on Thursday, but at a later date.
Dr Pullicino Orlando told The Times he had discussed the matter with executive president Marthese Portelli, PN general secretary Paul Borg Olivier and deputy leader Tonio Borg.
“Dr Portelli assured me my motion regarding Mr Cachia Caruana’s expulsion will not be discussed on Thursday but that we will simply be agreeing on the procedure to be followed at a meeting scheduled for July 19, when my motion will be discussed.”
Meanwhile, Thursday’s meeting, which has been described by the Prime Minister as one where “important decisions” will be taken, is expected to escalate the PN’s condemnation of Dr Pullicino Orlando and two other Nationalist MPs who disobeyed the party whip in recent weeks.
Dr Pullicino Orlando, who says he will be attending Thursday’s meeting to defend his actions, has questioned how any democratic political party could ever “presume to interfere” with an MP’s parliamentary work.
“The fact that I was censured by the executive for exercising my democratic rights in line with what I have been saying internally for the past four years, was already ultra vires. You would only expect this kind of situation in a totalitarian state in which party and Parliament are one.”
MUGLIETT AWAITS AGENDA
Meanwhile, Nationalist MP Jesmond Mugliett, who abstained on the Opposition motion against Mr Cachia Caruana, said he was waiting for the agenda of Thursday’s meeting before he decided whether or not to attend.
“If there is something that involves a discussion about me I would probably attend,” he said.
On the other hand, Nationalist MP Franco Debono, who voted with the Opposition to oust Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici, hopes to be given a chance to defend his stance during Thursday’s meeting.
Dr Debono wrote to the PN executive to contest his condemnation, mostly on procedural grounds: the fact that he was not given a chance to defend himself.
He will also question the merits and the timing of the condemnation, which was issued three weeks after he voted the minister out and the Prime Minister said the issue was a “closed chapter”.
Dr Debono also plans to ask his party why the government did not present his motion on justice and home affairs to Parliament before the one presented by the Opposition even though it was filed earlier.
FRANCO DEBONO IN CONCILIATORY MODE
However, Dr Debono struck a conciliatory tone when contacted yesterday.
“It is sad to see the party in this state. This is the result of bad decisions and mismanagement. But instead of pointing fingers at each other, we need to acknowledge our own mistakes, including my own, and move forward.
“I believe there is a person who can stop this haemorrhage and his name is (former general secretary) Joe Saliba. He is very down to earth and clear thinking. And I think if he is involved even more, he could be the key,” Dr Debono said.
According to a PN spokesman, both requests by Dr Pullicino Orlando and Dr Debono will be treated as correspondence.
“This basically means the items will be discussed in substance at another meeting the date of which has yet to be established,” the PN said, adding that no similar request had been filed by Mr Mugliett.