Anglu Farrugia resigns, deputy leadership contest next week [WATCH]

Anglu Farrugia resigns from deputy leadership, election announced for end of next week, nominations open as from tomorrow.

Labour MP Anglu Farrugia resigns from his deputy leadership post following allegations of political bias made against Magistrate Audrey Demicoli.
Labour MP Anglu Farrugia resigns from his deputy leadership post following allegations of political bias made against Magistrate Audrey Demicoli.

Updated with PN reaction

Opposition leader Joseph Muscat announced the resignation of deputy leader for parliamentary affairs Anglu Farrugia, less than a week after the MP's insinuations on a judge's decision being politically motivated, and his disastrous encounter in the live Xarabank debate with Nationalist deputy leader Simon Busuttil.

Nominations for the election of the vacant post will be open as from tomorrow [Friday], for a general conference to be held on Thursday and Friday week (26 and 27 December) for the election.

In a press conference, Muscat denied any link between the resignation and Farrugia's flop on PBS during a Xarabank debate that was postponed on Friday evening, when the party pulled him out minutes before he was due to go on air; and held on Saturday without a live audience.

Instead the Labour leader insisted that Farrugia had accepted responsibility for comments he passed last Sunday where he insinuated that a decision by Magistrate Audrey Demicoli on corrupt practices during the 2008 general elections, could have been politically motivated by the fact that her father Saviour Demioli is part of the Nationalist Party's establishment.

"To me such comments are not in their place, and should be made because they undermine an important pillar of our democracy.

"During the meeting I had with Farrugia, I requested his resignation, which Farrugia accepted to hand in out of his loyalty to the party.

"Over the past four years I have enjoyed Farrugia's undivided loyalty, and I thank him for his contribution. The party executive has unanimously approved a motion thanking Farrugia for his service to the party."

The deputy leader's resignation is providential after his ineffective performance on Xarabank gave the PN's newly elected deputy leader Simon Busuttil the edge, highlighting his charisma and ability to parry with political opponents.

Muscat said the party executive was now looking forward to the deputy leadership elections, as well as the general elections.

There is no doubt that Anglu Farrugia is the first casualty of Joseph Muscat's intensive campaign to win government in the March 9 elections, after the Labour leader has enjoyed consistently positive trust ratings in nationwide polls.

Ironically, Farrugia's comments last Sunday - part of a short-lived campaign in 2008 to reveal corrupt practices during the general elections Labour had lost - featured during his debate with Simon Busuttil, but failed to convincingly carry his point that the appeals courts had found a person guilty of corrupt practices. When he made his point more clearly on Sunday, Farrugia hinted that the first decision by Magistrate Demicoli could have been motivated by a Nationalist bias.

Muscat denied a claim that former Labour secretary-general Jason Micallef had moved a motion of no confidence against Anglu Farrugia. "Micallef was not even present and it is not true that he moved a motion of no-confidence."

Asked whether Labour should report its own MP to the Commission for the Administration of Justice in the light of his statements, Muscat reiterated that Farrugia had shouldered his responsible by resigning. "The party does not involve itself in the issues pertaining to the commission."

It is not yet clear whether Farrugia will still contest the upcoming general elections. "This is not a decision that should be taken now," Muscat said, before adding that Farrugia had indicated that he may not wish to contest.

"Labour remains a united party, and this emerges clearly from Farrugia's gentlemanly willingness to resign."

Simon Busuttil 'dictating' Labour's agenda - PN

In its initial reaction, the Nationalist Party insisted that its deputy leader Simon Busuttil "is dictating Labour's agenda".

The party boased that Simon Busuttil hadcaused an earthquake within Labour. "With Labour's decision not to send Anglu Farrugia to Friday's Xarabank debate and his subsequent performance on Saturday, it had shown that 'Labour is not working'," the party said.

The PN insisted that Busuttil's appointment as deputy leader had caused "panic" inside Labour, leading the party to take rash decisions. "Simon Busuttil is setting Labour's agenda and Joseph Muscat is reacting in a panic. Labour isn't working."

In a separate statement reacting to Muscat's press conference, the PN insisted that the Labour leader wasn't being sincere when he attributed Farrugia's resignation to comments he passed over Magistrate Demicoli. "Muscat treats the people as if they were idiots. The truth is that Muscat is panicking because of Simon Busuttil," the party reiterated.

From police officer to MP

Between 1977 and 1996, the 57-year-old lawyer from Mosta worked as a police officer reaching the rank of Superintendent.

In 1996, Farrugia debuted in the political arena and contested on the Labour ticket, and was elected into Parliament on first count in 1996.

During the 1996-1998 short-lived Labour administration, Farrugia served as chairman of House Committee for the consideration of bills, and later, following the collapse of the Labour government and the subsequent 1998 election, he served as an MP on the Opposition benches.

He unsuccessfully contested the role of deputy leader for party affairs in 1998, winning 24% of party delegates' votes.

Between 1998 and 2008 he served as shadow minister for justice. In 2008, he was elected Labour deputy leader for parliamentary affairs with 64% of the vote.

He currently serves as the PL's spokesperson employment and workers' rights.

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@edyjoyce........mhux se nghidlek min hu HMAR ghax m'hawn hadd gharef. biss nixtieq nghidlek li inti ma 'fhimtx dak li ghidt jien. jason se jiehu post anglu bhala deputat parlamentari ghax anglu mhux se jikkontesta.
Labour now should go for Dr Emanuel Mallia or Ms Marlene Mizzi. Prosit Joseph and thank you Dr Anglu Farrugia for all the good work done for our country.
joseph serju u gonzi b'din il mossa gabek zero aktar milli kont.ACCOUNTABILITY
I shall re-write my comment because I trust it has been "lost" somewhere! I always said and say it again. I shall not vote for the PN again. I also said that I was not committed to vote to PL as yet. Joseph, let me say it today. YOU HAVE EARNED MY VOTE. What I see is what I shall get ...... u bil-provi!!
The only Labour politician who could have a slight chance of renewing the party is Owen Bonnici. Old men like Manwel Mallia and Edward Scicluna are way past their prime and have nothing new to contribute.
That's what accountability means. You make a serious mistake? Then you have to shoulder responsibility like a man, something which never happens within the Nationalist Party. No wonder the cabinet is still made up of people like Austin Gatt, Dolores Cristina and Tonio Fenech.
Fil-PL min jizbalja jirrezenja: f'GonziPN ma jirrezenja hadd.....almenu jekk ma ikunx ta theddida ghal klikka li tikkontrolla l-Partit!
Fenea: Jason lanqas mhu deputat allura lanqas jista jikkontesta , HMAR !
il_mignun... from your comments here I see that you chose your nickname most factually indeed! ;-)
warrab ang halli jidhol jason
This is way too harsh on Anglu... At the end of the day, he was only telling the truth.
Labour should elect / appoint Dr Emmanuel Mallia as Deputy Leader.
No excuses from P.L. There is only one honourable reason: SIMON - THE TERMINATOR!!
And about time too.
Prosit Anglu- this is what accountability is all about. Maybe PN can learn a thing or two from this act.