Updated: Michael Briguglio Unperturbed As New Civil Society Group Forms To Distance Protest Movement From Him
"I have never felt as connected to civil society as I do today"
Michael Briguglio addresses a protest action outside the police headquarters. Photo: Ian Noel Pace
The civil society movement demanding justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia has shaken itself up, with a new organisation sprouting up as a reactionary move against PN candidate Michael Briguglio.
Briguglio was one of the original co-founders of the Civil Society Network (CSN), a small movement set up in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal but which burst to life following the assassination of Caruana Galizia last year. The CSN organised a series of national demonstrations and protest actions, some in collaboration with similarly-minded groups, namely Occupy Justice, Il-Kenniesa and the now-defunct Awturi.
A new organisation ‘Repubblika: Civil Society Movement’ was set up today, which includes several people involved in the aforementioned movements. Karl Camilleri used to be part of CSN, Alexander Hili used to be part of Awturi, while Manuel Delia, Pia Zammit, Marion Pace Axiak, Joe Pace Axiak, Robert Aquilina, Sammu Davis and Simon Sansone are either involved in Occupy Justice or frequently attend their vigils. Kenniesa are not involved at all in this new movement.
Lovin Malta understands that the activists decided to set up an entirely new movement instead of teaming up with the Civil Society Network because they didn’t want to have anything to do with active politicians. Briguglio, a sociology lecturer and former leader of Alternattiva Demokratika, announced last summer that he would contest next year’s European Parliament elections under the PN ticket.
Michael Briguglio with Opposition leader Adrian Delia
Indeed, in its opening statement, Repubblika said it feels politicians should stay out of civil society.
“Although Repubblika appreciates the public service of all politicians of goodwill, it does not consider that civil society should be the battleground for politicians, elected officials, or candidates,” it said.
Briguglio told Lovin Malta that, while he disagrees with politicians fronting civil society movements, he doesn’t see any issue with them being involved in such movements.
“I never wanted politicians to speak at CSN events and in fact as soon as I announced my candidature last summer, I started taking a backseat in CSN and made it clear that I wanted to see new people fronting it,” he said. “However, many politicians are active in civil society organisations, be they religious organisations, band clubs or sports club, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important is that decisions taken by civil society organisations are fully autonomous and not the result of influence by a political party.”
“I have always been upfront about my activism in the 25 years I’ve been involved in it. I could have very well kept my decision to run as a PN MEP candidate up by sleeve till the end of the campaign, but I was honest about it and immediately stopped speaking on behalf of CSN afterwards.”
Briguglio said he wishes ‘Repubblika’ all the best, that he has no feelings of animosity towards their activists, and that he has never felt as close to civil society as he has since announcing his MEP candidature.
“I visit a different locality everyday and constantly meet up with various civil society organisations,” he said. “I have never felt as connected to civil society as I do today.”