[WATCH] Updated | PN insiders contradict Delia, as embattled leader rejects claims Jean Pierre Debono manipulated voter list

The PN leader said the party’s electoral commission was entrusted with Saturday’s election process but this has been contradicted by multiple sources within the PN

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia rejects accusation that Jean Pierre Debono manipulated voter list

Updated at 1.55pm with comments from PN insiders

Nationalist Party insiders have contradicted claims by Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia, that an established electoral commission within the PN was charged with overseeing the voting process that elected him to be replace David Stellini in parliament.

This morning, Delia disputed allegations that Debono had manipulated the list of eligible voters in Saturday’s vote in the executive committee. Debono beat councillor Kevin Cutajar by two votes in what has turned out to be a very controversial vote.

However, Delia said he had to look into claims made by the PN Gozo regional committee that the decision to replace Stellini with a candidate who had not run on the same district – Gozo – was unconstitutional.

Speaking to MaltaToday as he entered the PN headquarters, Delia said he was “almost absolutely certain” that Debono had not improperly intervened in the voting process.

Asked what steps would be taken after claims that two of the executive members who voted should not have been on the list of eligible voters, a sombre Delia said that he was more worried by the claim that the long-standing PN statute was anti-constitutional.

“Jean Pierre Debono was not involved in the electoral process… The [PN’s] electoral commission was entrusted with the process and I will now ask the commission to put our minds at rest that the process undertaken was correct and transparent,” Delia said.

He said that he did not believe the submissions made by the Gozo regional committee that Stellini was ineligible to vote were correct.

“I have spoken with the committee already. But this is not what worries me most. What I am concerned about is the committee’s comment that the choice of Debono was unconstitutional as [Stellini's replacement] had to be a candidate from Gozo,” Delia said.

"This is something which I have to look into, as it is a serious matter. The PN statute wasn't drawn up now - it has existed for a long time," he highlighted.

Delia added that the matter would now we discussed by the party, and the "necessary decisions" would be taken.

READ ALSO: The PN's implosion explained: A blow-by-blow account of what happened so far

PN insiders dispute Delia’s version of events

A number of PN sources with knowledge of the process have however contradicted Delia’s claims, insisting that Saturday’s vote had been overseen by an ad hoc electoral commission formed just before the vote was taken.

The commission - made up of three persons selected there and then - had the sole responsibility of sealing the ballot box and ensuring that the persons who voted were the ones named on the voting list, the sources said.

They underlined that it wasn’t the commission’s responsibility to check who should be on the list of eligible voters.

One source stressed that Delia was incorrect to “give the impression that there was some electoral commission in place which had the job of ensuring those named on the voters’ list were truly eligible to vote”.

“People who were present for the meeting can verify that the commission was set up on the spot and didn’t vet the voters’ list,” said another.

“It’s only job was to seal the box and verify that the names on the list drawn up by the party’s secretariat were those who had voted,” they said, “The electoral commission had no time to beforehand vet any of the names.”

“Obviously, we trusted in the list drawn up by the party’s administration. Have we come to the point where we can’t even trust the list of names supplied by the PN secretary general now?” they added.

READ ALSO: The PN's implosion explained: A blow-by-blow account of what happened so far