[WATCH] Updated | Kevin Cutajar co-option to House approved by acclamation in PN executive committee

Gozo local councillor Kevin Cutajar will become Malta’s newest MP

Kevin Cutajar (centre) with PN leader Adrian Delia
Kevin Cutajar (centre) with PN leader Adrian Delia
Kevin Cutajar will be PN's new MP

Kevin Cutajar, the Xagħra councillor looking to replace David Stellini in parliament, has been voted by acclamation by the PN executive committee to take his seat up in the House of Representatives.

Stellini, who was elected to parliament from the 13th District – Gozo – resigned last month, with the party now needing to fill his seat by co-opting someone to the House.

Cutajar was a PN candidate for the 2017 and 2013 general elections, and has been a local councillor in Xagħra since 2007, re-elected in the 2019 election. He is visually-impaired.

Last Saturday the same executive elected the PN’s chief political advisor Jean Pierre Debono after he beat Cutajar by 42 votes to 40.

Debono was however forced to give up his seat the following day, after it transpired that two of members of the executive who voted in the election where in fact not eligible to do so.

Saturday’s decision to select Debono over Cutajar was not received well by the party’s activists in Gozo, who are insisting that the seat should be given to someone from the same district.

Former European Court of Human Rights judge Giovanni Bonello also said the matter of co-option to the House was government by several constitutional rules, including one which designates Gozo as a special region, and another stating that in the case of a co-option he new member must be “as nearly as can be of the interests and opinions represented and held by the vacating member”.

Bonello’s opinion, Cutajar said in a Facebook post, “strengthened Gozo’s case” in the matter.

The PN did the right thing - Kevin Cutajar

In comments to the press after being co-opted to Parliament, Cutajar said that the Nationalist Party had “done the right thing”, since a seat which had been occupied by a Gozitan should remain Gozo’s.

The party had also sent a strong message that even someone with a disability could make it to that point, he said.

“The PN - a party I always believed in - did the right thing today. As I said, the seat was Gozo’s and should remain Gozo’s,” Cutajar said.

“As a Gozitan, I was very satisfied that there was near unity amongst the Gozitans when it came to this case. I think we should be unified for other causes, in order to make them a success.”

“This is a departure point. We’ll now turn the page and look forward to the work I have before me as an MP. I will try to undertake this responsibility using the utmost of my abilities,” Cutajar added.

PN identifying its weaknesses - Delia

Asked by MaltaToday - in light of comments he made on Friday’s Xarabank that he would resign if he lost the 2022 general election by a big margin - how large the loss would have to be for him to step down, Delia said that it was premature at this stage to discuss this.

He said that the PN’s executive committee had had a very fruitful session on Saturday, and that the party was identifying its weaknesses, restructuring, but also focusing on what its members have in common.

“The executive committee was very strong today, and held a long and serious discussion. We are identifying our weaknesses and looking at what restructuring has to be put in place. But we are also looking at our strengths - what unites us, not divides us, which means of communication can be used better, and how we can recognise society’s needs better,” he said.

On the co-option of Cutajar, Delia said that “the PN won, the Maltese and Gozitan people won, and the concept of just representation won” with the executive committee’s new decisions.

“The lesson is that when a party listens and debates, and recognises its challenges, good can emanate from this,” the Nationalist leader added.

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