Jean Pierre Debono co-option is null, says PN Gozo committee

Jean Pierre Debono's co-option to Parliament is null and void since David Stellini was allowed to vote in the PN's executive committee despite resigning as an MP and because it breached Constitution provisions which protect Gozo, Gozo Regional Committe says

The Gozo Regional Committee has requested that another vote on who to replace David Stellini is held, insisting the Jean Pierre Debono's co-option was null and void
The Gozo Regional Committee has requested that another vote on who to replace David Stellini is held, insisting the Jean Pierre Debono's co-option was null and void

The Gozo Regional Committee has challenged the co-option of Jean Pierre Debono to Parliament, insisting that allowing David Stellini to vote in Saturday's executive committee was in breach of the PN statute.

The co-option also breached provisions of Malta's Constitution which seek to ensure that an MP who resigns is replaced by someone who champions the same interests and concerns, the Gozo committee said.

The Committee said it was considering Debono's co-option as invalid because Stellini, having resigned his seat in Parliament, should not have been allowed to vote during the executive committee which decided to co-opt Debono instead of Xaghra local councillor Kevin Cutajar.

In a letter addressed to PN leader Adrian Delia, and the party's secretary general and deputy leaders, the Committee said that Stellini having resigned should have, according to party rules, brought about his automatic resignation from the executive, and from his roles as president of the party's administrative council.

"Therefore, the list of those eligible to vote in the executive committee was irregular and thus renders the voting process null and void," the Committee said.

It said that it should have been up to the PN administration to ensure that the list of voters was up to date and correct.

Moreover, the Committee said that Debono's co-option also went against the Maltese Constitution which provides in Article 52 that MEPs are elected in equal proportions in respect to Malta's electoral districts, in such a way that all districts elect not less than five representatives.

The Committee also refer to Article 61A of the Constitution, which sets out that Gozo and all other island of the Maltese archipelago are to be considered as one district.

"This is meant precisely to protect Gozo from electoral fragmentation due to its aspects as a region," the Committee said, "In the same way that Gozo could never be joined with another district, MPs from the same Gozitan district must in the best way represent the direct interests of the party's constituents in Gozo."

It went on to quote Article 22(2) of schedule 13, chapter 354 of the laws of Malta, which states that when the seat of an MP has to be filled through co-option, the candidate who replaces the MP who resigned should have the same interests as those which the resigning candidate sought to represent.

"It results that the person who should have filled the place vacated by David Stellini should have had the same concerns [in terms of which interests to promote as an MP] as him - in this case, the safeguarding of Gozo's constituents."

The Committee said that it felt that, through its decision, the executive committee completely ignored its obligations under the Constitution.

With its decision, the executive committee also went agaist the providion of the General Elections act, it said.

Finally, the Committee requested that, before Debono's co-option is officially brought forward, the PN administrative committee investigates who was responsible for drawing up the list of executive committee voters and the reason why it wasn't updated.

The Committee also requested that the PN administrative committee declare the co-option vote null and void, because of the reasons set out in the Gozo committee's letter, and that it hold a new vote, so that the person replacing Stellini has the same interests as him.

If the administrative committee fails to amend its position by 6pm today, the Gozo committee said it would be reserving the right to take other action as set out in the law.