Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil this evening warned that the party would be seeking justice if it transpired that corrupt practices took place during the June 3 general election.

Dr Busuttil sounded his warning when addressing PN activists at the Sannat sub-headquarters in Gozo.

“The PN will not reach haphazard conclusions but is currently investigating every piece of evidence being brought to its attention which is pointing towards suspicions of corrupt practices. It will seek justice if there are sufficient grounds.”

Addressing party activists on the sister island for the first time following the PN's landslide defeat, Dr Busuttil expressed his disappointment at the result, especially in Gozo, where the party lost its absolute majority.

He also quelled speculation that he was reconsidering his decision to step down, reiterating his intention to resign.D

Despite announcing his resignation, momentum has been growing within the party’s ranks, including by a number of PN MPs, for Dr Busuttil to revoke his decision. 

However, the PN leader dashed these hopes, saying he was bound to shoulder responsibility for the party’s dismal showing.

“This means that I cannot stay on as leader,” he said, amid the audible signs of disappointment from those present.

Dr Busuttil added that the party's executive committee would be convening next week to decide on the timeframes which would lead to the election of his successor, by not later than next September.

Following changes to the party’s statute in 2014, the initial list of candidates will be whittled down to two by the general council delegates, but the final runoff will be decided by some 23,000 party members for the first time ever. However, those who joined the party in the last two years will not be eligible to vote.

In his address, Dr Busuttil referred to a general feeling of “betrayal” which crept in following the defeat.  He also referred to reports that the PL had “bought” votes using its power of incumbency through an aggressive recruitment exercise such as within the Gozo Channel, as well as through numerous promotions and appointments with State entities.

The PN leader sarcastically remarked that in the last election illiteracy levels had seemingly spiked, amid allegations that the number of voters who requested assistance to mark the ballot sheet was unusually high.

He noted that the party would not jump to conclusions, but at the same time warned that the PN was investigating each and every report.

“If we feel these allegations are serious and may amount to corrupt practices, that would be illegal, and you can be rest assured that we will be seeking justice.”

Dr Busuttil said that this was “probably the case” and urged those having any information in this regard to come forward.

“I even heard reports that there were graduates who declared being illiterate,” he added.

In his address, the PN leader referred to the Prime Minister’s appeal for unity saying Joseph Muscat should lead by example by revoking all politically-motivated transfers ordered in the general election aftermath.

Touching on the executive committee’s decision regarding the casual elections, he said the party wanted to convey a strong message in favour of Gozo. This is why Marthese Portelli vacated her seat on the 13th district so that for the first time ever Gozo would have four PN MPs, he said. 

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