PN candidates call for Carmelo Abela’s resignation but avoid questions on Toni Bezzina

Nationalist Party candidates says Carmelo Abela should resign from his post or be removed by the Prime Minister after ethics breach but have nothing to say about Toni Bezzina

Nationalist Party candidates have called for the resignation of Minister Carmelo Abela in light of a Standards Commissioner report that found he breached ethics.

The report found that Abela's conduct constitutes a breach of several articles of the Code of Ethics for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. The report concerned the allocation of public funds within the Ministry within the Office of the Prime Minister, headed by Abela, for an alleged political advertising campaign in print media.

In his report, the Commissioner concluded the advert was "clearly intended to boost the image of Minister Carmelo Abela rather than provide any information of value to the general public, given the prominence of the photograph and the absence of informative content on the work of the ministry". 

Nationalist candidate Justin Schembri said the advert only served one interest, that of boosting Abela’s personal profile ahead of an imminent cabinet reshuffle.  

Jerome Caruana Cilia, who will also be contesting the general election on the PN ticket, accused the Prime Minister of adopting double standards with his MPs.

“Abela had said that he would take action following a report on Rosianne Cutajar. Now we have a report on Carmelo Abela, and he is yet to take action against him,” he said.  

He also said the money spent on the advertising campaign, around €7,000, should be refunded. “That is our money, the people’s money, and it should be returned,” he said.  

However, the candidates avoided replying to questions when asked several times whether Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina should step down, in light of a police investigation on alleged corruption

They said the PN has showcased its standards in accountability, citing Karol Aquilina’s recent resignation as Justice and Electoral Reform spokesperson and Secretary of the Parliamentary Group, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings over a June 2019 driving incident where he refused to obey police instructions.   

The candidates stopped short of saying whether Bezzina should step down until the investigation in his regard is concluded.