Former PN leader Simon Busuttil has declined to comment on a report that he snubbed his successor Adrian Delia ahead of tomorrow’s anti-corruption protest in Valletta.
“I do not comment on the internal discussions of the Parliamentary Group,” Busuttil told Lovin Malta. “I never did and I will not start now.”
Delia has not yet responded to a request to confirm or deny the report.
MaltaToday reported that Delia had wanted Busuttil and MP Jason Azzopardi to co-sign a PN parliamentary motion calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. However, Busuttil was said to have refused and the motion was eventually signed by Delia, PN deputy leader David Agius and whip Robert Cutajar.
The newspaper also reported that the PN parliamentary group failed to agree to walk side by side during tomorrow’s protest, which is being organised by pressure groups Repubblika and Occupy Justice along with journalist-blogger Manuel Delia.
During a fiery speech in Parliament this week, Busuttil hailed Repubblika for organising the protest but said people also expect the Opposition to organise their own protest.
“The people expect us all to stand up and speak out,” he said.
Repubblika said that while it welcomes support by political parties for its protest, the protest is a civil society initiative at which parties shouldn’t “seek to choke out the space citizens deserve to express themselves”.
“Parties should not seek to be protagonists in this occasion. Political parties are much more endowed than civil society with the means to express themselves – in Parliament, on media and so on – which is why civil society should be afforded the space to speak freely in the streets,” it said.
“We will take a dim view of political parties or individual politicians using this protest for their ends or to project their own disagreements. We expect political parties help ensure good public order. As long as these basic principles are respected, we welcome all people of good will that despise corruption.”
Occupy Justice said it is pathetic for politicians to even suggest that they can use an anti-corruption manifestation as a platform to fight their own battles.
“Whilst we recognise that politicians are also members of society, and that everyone is welcome as a citizen, we strongly feel that the only political battle that should be fought is the one of putting pressure on the Prime Minister to acknowledge that his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, is corrupt; that his star minister Konrad Mizzi is corrupt; and that, by extension, he, too, is corrupt; and that, therefore, the three of them should resign immediately,” it said.
Meanwhile, Moviment Graffitti has said it won’t attend tomorrow’s protest so as to remain faithful to its strict policy of not participating in events “which take on a partisan significance”.
The protest was announced shortly after Keith Schembri suddenly dropped a libel suit he had instituted against Simon Busuttil two and a half years ago over corruption accusations so as to avoid cross-examination. Schembri has argued that his cross-examination could have prejudiced his testimony at ongoing magisterial inquiries into his financial dealings.