Franco Debono on PN leadership candidature: ‘I am listening attentively to the people’

Former Nationalist Party MP Franco Debono keeps all his options open as party leadership contest looms

Former PN MP Franco Debono
Former PN MP Franco Debono

Franco Debono has said he is listening to the people, when asked on Monday whether he would be contesting the Nationalist Party's leadership race.

The former PN MP spent Sunday afternoon posting on his Facebook wall messages he received from people encouraging him to throw his hat in the ring.

PN party councillors decided on Saturday to go for a leadership race rather than a confidence vote into Adrian Delia.

“You can go to my social media profile and see people’s reactions. I am listening attentively to those people and will base my decision on that call,” Debono said when contacted by MaltaToday. He said he is a paid-up member of the PN.

Debono had voted against his own government in the budget presented in December 2012, effectively bringing down the Gonzi administration and paving the way to the election that was won by Joseph Muscat’s Labour Party.

At the time, Debono was branded a rebel after spending a whole legislature haggling his own government for its failure to introduce legislative and constitutional reforms.

Eight years after voting against his own government, Debono now says that those who had called him a rebel back then, were being described as rebels themselves.

“This shows that there is nothing wrong in challenging the party leadership when you feel that there is something wrong going on. Even Lawrence Gonzi lent his support to the rebels within the parliamentary group,” Debono said.

He also insisted that his issue was never with individuals within the PN, but rather the polices it had adopted.

“I had an issue with the party’s lack of initiative in adopting much needed reforms like the justice and home affairs reforms,” he said.

Asked if he would be willing to work with the so-called party rebels, Debono said there is a place for everyone in the PN.

“We need people in the proper roles. That is when the party starts functioning the best,” he said, adding that the party needed restructuring in all of its strata."

“This is not just a question of leadership. The party needs new faces and individuals at every level,” he said.

On Sunday, Debono posted 64 screenshots of messages calling for him to return to the PN. “The majority is behind you,” one message of support read.

Posted by Franco Debono on Sunday, 2 August 2020

Only last month, Fifth district MP Hermann Schiavone, who had a long-standing animosity with Debono, had insisted the PN should have the courage to re-admit everyone back to its fold if it is to win the general election, including Debono.

Party secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech had also said that the party’s door is open to everyone.

Prospective candidates for the leadership can start registering their expression of interest on Tuesday in a process that will first lead to a vetting exercise of nominees. Candidates can only formally submit their nomination if they get the all-clear from the due diligence process.

 

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