Repubblika president Robert Aquilina has denied that the NGO is coordinating its strategy with the Nationalist Party after a meeting with PN leader Bernard Grech sparked speculation.
“Repubblika is autonomous from all other entities and doesn’t give or receive instructions or enter into deals with political parties,” Aquilina said in a post. “Repubblika depends solely on its financial and human resources.”
The Repubblika president was reacting to a report by blogger and university lecturer Simon Mercieca, who suggested that the NGO’s press conference yesterday, in which it threatened to resume street protests, followed some kind of coordination with the PN during a meeting with Grech last month.
“Repubblika knows full-well that it cannot hold protests on its own. It needs the PN’s structure and support,” Mercieca wrote, while urging Grech to disassociate the PN from the NGO.
A PN spokesperson has denied claims of political coordination between the party and Repubblika.
Aquilina confirmed with Lovin Malta that Repubblika did indeed meet Grech, but said it’s perfectly normal for them to meet up with political parties and interest groups to lobby their ideas.
“We meet up with political parties to discuss our ideas, not to coordinate strategy,” he said.
“During these meetings, I keep in mind that if someone had to be recording the conversation, I would feel comfortable with what I said.”
“There may be overlap between our criticism of government and the Opposition’s criticism but that doesn’t mean we’re coordinating our strategies.”
He said that while Grech, ADPD and President George Vella agreed to meet Repubblika, the same cannot be said of Prime Minister Robert Abela, Speaker Anglu Farrugia and the MCESD.
Aquilina said that Abela had asked Repubblika for a meeting in January 2020, shortly after he was elected Prime Minister and news broke that Konrad Mizzi had been given a €80,000 consultancy job by the Malta Tourism Authority towards the end of the Joseph Muscat administration.
Although this contract was rescinded, a protest called by Repubblika went ahead nevertheless.
“Abela asked for a meeting and we agreed to meet him after the protest, but he wanted the protest cancelled,” Aquilina said.
He added that he felt signs of pressure from the new Prime Minister when Repubblika’s application for a police permit for the protest met with an unexpected hiccup.
“The police never used to object to our protests, but the acting commissioner objected to this one.”
“I asked him what had changed besides the man occupying the seat of Prime Minister and he only ended up signing the permit after I warned him that Repubblika would hold a protest anyway and tell people that the police refused to give their consent because that’s what Abela wanted.”
“After that, Abela ignored all our requests for a meeting.”
He said that he remembers Abela from their time at secondary school together, has no problem with him on a personal level and would love to meet him.
“The problem is that Abela has an aversion to our protests, he cannot understand that protests are part of democratic life.”
Cover photo: Left: Robert Aquilina, Right: Bernard Grech