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PN whip David Agius pressured to make way for Chris Said

Said lost narrowly to Delia in the leadership election

Chris Said

Chris Said

Pressure is mounting on PN deputy leadership contender David Agius to make way for Chris Said in a bid to stop the internal haemorrhage triggered by Adrian Delia’s election as leader, this newspaper has learnt.

Sources close to the Nationalist Party told the Times of Malta the calls intensified in the wake of a MaltaToday survey which exposed Dr Delia’s rather weak support among a section of the party’s grassroots who had vociferously opposed his leadership bid. Though Dr Said had been approached by Dr Delia to run for the post of deputy leader, parliamentary affairs, in an attempt to bring him on board and unite the party, the Gozitan MP had made one crucial condition, the sources noted.

Dr Said, who lost narrowly to Dr Delia in the September 17 leadership election, had accepted the suggestion, provided that he would be uncontested, they added. This demand was based on the historic precedents set in the cases of Guido de Marco in 1977 and his son, Mario, in 2013.

At this stage, I am not excluding anything

However, the power-sharing plan hit a snag as Mr Agius, the PN parliamentary group whip, who ann-ounced his bid in July, was adamant in forging ahead with his campaign. Even yesterday, he was inviting party members through his Facebook account to sign his nomination for the November 18 election .

Though MP Edwin Vassallo will also be throwing his name in the hat, he made it clear from the very beginning he was ready to step aside should Dr Said decide to run for the post.

Nominations for the two posts close on Friday.

Read: ‘Either a Delia-Said leadership or chaos,’ says Frank Portelli

Despite a one-horse race at this stage looking highly unlikely, Dr Said did not rule out contesting.

“At this stage, I am not excluding anything,” he told this newspaper yesterday refusing to elaborate.

The sources said a confidential survey carried out in recent days indicated Dr Said would stand a good chance of winning, even if not uncontested. So, he may still take the plunge.

Mr Agius said he had been overwhelmed by card-carrying members and executive committee officials who wanted to endorse his nomination.

Watch: Chris Said, the underdog

He denied he was being pressured to withdraw and insisted that when he made his intention clear three months ago to all four leadership contestants, including Dr Said himself, none of them had objected.

As for deputy leader, party affairs, the only candidate who has openly declared his intention to contest is Robert Arrigo. Though several others have been touted as interested, such as Clyde Puli and Kristy Debono, they are yet to confirm their intention.

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