Clyde Puli scouting for other Gozo candidates to take up Stellini seat

The PN secretary-general is asking other Gozo candidates to throw in their nomination for the seat vacated by Gozo MP David Stellini

PN secretary-general Clyde Puli (centre) with Jean Pierre Debono (left) and former MP David Stellini (right)
PN secretary-general Clyde Puli (centre) with Jean Pierre Debono (left) and former MP David Stellini (right)

The secretary-general of the Nationalist Party, Clyde Puli, is approaching PN candidates from the Gozo district to nominate them for the co-option of the parliamentary seat vacated by Gozo MP David Stellini.

But already candidates like Joe Ellis, are turning down the offer, telling Puli in a letter seen by MaltaToday that it should be Xaghra local councillor Kevin Cutajar to take the seat.

Ellis, a candidate in the 2017 election, told Puli that while it seemed both “logical as well as legal” that Stellini’s seat be taken up by a Gozitan, he added it was “natural and morally correct that it should be Kevin Cutajar to take the seat”.

“Cutajar has intellectual and unimpeachable moral qualities… indeed the electoral result he obtained in the last general election… make him the most suitable candidate to fill Stellini’s seat,” he said in a letter to Puli.

Another candidate, Maria Portelli, said she had also refused Puli’s offer, saying that Cutajar was the most meritorious for the seat.

Cutajar threw in his nomination for the co-option but lost out in the vote taken by the executive committee by 42 votes to 40, which instead selected PN leader Adrian Delia’s chief political advisor, Jean Pierre Debono.

The nomination was a source of conflict inside the executive committee, with opposing factions still reeling from the drubbing at the European and local elections, backing either candidate in a proxy war with Delia at its heart.

But it appears that instead of allowing Cutajar a painless entry to the House, the PN leadership is attempting to scout for other Gozitan candidates to contest for Stellini’s seat, despite the last executive committee meeting becoming a source of great controversy and division.

First its president Mark Anthony Sammut resigned, calling on the leadership to take political responsibility for the electoral loss. Then he declared that neither Stellini, nor party treasurer David Camilleri were entitled to vote.

The PN’s regional committee in Gozo also claimed that Stellini should have lost his right to vote in the executive when he resigned his parliamentary seat.

Debono later announced he would not take up the co-option, in a bid to shore up support for the embattled Adrian Delia, who was faced with letters of protest from the PN’s organs, who insisted Gozo MP David Stellini’s seat should be given to a Gozitan.