Nationalist MP Franco Debono.
Backbencher Franco Debono has ruled out the possibility of resigning from the PN to become an independent MP and form a similar pact with government as Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando has done.
Debono has so far not retracted a previous statement that he will not support government unless Transport Minister Austin Gatt resigns from the Cabinet.
As expected, after the PN's executive committee cleared Richard Cachia Caruana of allegations made by Pullicino Orlando, the Zebbug MP yesterday formally quit the Nationalist parliamentary group. Pullicino Orlando is now an independent MP in 'coalition' with the PN to see that it completes its electoral programme.
It is yet to be seen whether Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi must now face a threat from Debono over key ally Austin Gatt's position in the Cabinet. "I don't want to resign from the PN. But as I already declared, I don't intend to support government unless Austin Gatt resigns from ministerial post," Debono told MaltaToday.
"I have no doubt that Austin Gatt contributed a lot to the PN but it's now time for him to make way for new blood. But new blood means new blood and not his clones."
Debono was referring to the approved candidature of Gatt's right-hand man Manuel Delia and his IT policy consultant Claudio Grech.
Debono insisted that Austin Gatt was "very much connected" to the PN losing the 1996 elections. He went on to say that since Gatt took over the party's electoral campaign, the PN is now lagging behind in polls.
Debono also said that disciplinary measures should "first start with ministers and then with backbenchers".
"The public is not satisfied with the public transport reform and yet he didn't shoulder responsibility for it," he reiterated, insisting that ministers should lead by example. The backbencher also recalled the controversial Delimara power station contract awarded to the BWSC. MaltaToday in March had also revealed that while €158 million had already been paid to BWSC, the repayment of the loans covering the construction of the first Delimara plant in 1989 have not yet started.
Debono, who has appealed the PN's decision condemning him for supporting an Opposition's motion, has blamed Austin Gatt for the condemnation and the decision not to let him contest the elections on a PN ticket.
"It's very in line with his character. He's a very confrontational person and yes I believe he was behind this decision," he insisted.
Debono went on to say that Gatt, together with MP Beppe Fenech Adami, are "preparing" for a future leadership contest. "They want to control the party," he said.
Debono would not comment on the 'coalition' arrangement between Gonzi and Pullicino Orlando but he said he was sorry that Pullicino Orlando left the party. "It's a pity that someone like him, who militated in the party for so long, ended up leaving," he said.