Updated Monday 7.30am

A motion to co-opt Jean Pierre Debono into parliament was postponed late on Sunday evening, as Nationalist Party leadership scrambled to contain fallout from a contentious vote to have Mr Debono replace outgoing MP David Stellini.

Speaker Anġlu Farrugia received word late in the evening that the PN would not be presenting Monday’s motion, sources told Times of Malta.

The party opted to put off the vote after it learned that a number of its own MPs intended to file a warrant of prohibitory injunction against the co-option on Monday morning, sources said, in a legal bid to block Mr Debono from being appointed an MP.

The injunction had already been drafted and would still be presented if the PN sought to go ahead with Monday’s motion, the sources said.

Debono under pressure

Mr Debono, who won a secret ballot to replace Mr Stellini by just two votes, came under intense pressure on Sunday evening after being accused of having allowed two ineligible executive committee members to cast a vote in Saturday’s ballot, which he himself won. on Monday, he pointed the finger of blame at outgoing executive committee president Mark Anthony Sammut.

The PN’s Gozo regional committee was the first to flag concerns, writing party leader Adrian Delia a letter in which it noted that Mr Stellini should not have been allowed to vote, as he had already resigned his seat in parliament.

The committee gave the party until Sunday evening to revise the decision to co-opt Mr Debono and threatened legal action if it did not do so.

Shortly afterwards, outgoing executive committee president Mark Anthony Sammut suggested that another ineligible member, treasurer David Camilleri, had also been allowed to vote.

Read: Sammut points finger at Debono, who hits back

It was Mr Debono, Mr Sammut charged, who was responsible for keeping track of executive committee attendance records and data.

“The conflict of interest is clear,” he wrote. “Gozitans not only had a [parliamentary] seat stolen, it was stolen through deception”.

MP Jason Azzopardi went a step further, writing on Facebook that Mr Debono had committed “fraud”. He shared a screenshot of a Word document which appeared to show a list of committee members, including Mr Stellini and Mr Camilleri, and which was last edited on the morning of May 30 by a ‘Jean Pierre Debono’.

Mr Debono however washed his hands of the charges, saying that he had not compiled the list of voting members and that he had told Mr Sammut so before Saturday’s meeting.

“It should have been him who led the election and ensured the list in his hands was the correct one, up-to-date and in line with the [party] statute,” he wrote on Facebook.

Reprimand in 2017

It is the second time that Mr Debono has been embroiled in controversy over his handling of votes within PN structures.

Back in 2017, he received a reprimand from the party for the way in which he handled proxy votes during the leadership election which Dr Delia won. 

He had been accused of collecting a member’s voting document through a proxy issued without the voter’s consent. The member said that the signature on the vote was not his. 

Mr Debono had denied forging signatures but admitted to having used proxies so that sectional committees could collect voting documents on behalf of members unable to do so themselves. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us