The Times reports that PL leadership candidate Robert Abela filed a complaint with the party after members of Chris Fearne’s team were allegedly found updating the official register of eligible party voters at the PL Headquarters during the night of December 31.
Party sources told Times of Malta that an incident at the Labour Party headquarters, in Ħamrun, on New Year’s Eve sparked concerns that one of the two candidates in the leadership race was meddling with the official register of those eligible to vote.
However, sources close to the party said the issue was being blown out of proportion and cast doubts on the claims.
According to the complaint filed by Mr Abela on Sunday morning, the door to an office at the party headquarters, where the list of paid-up party members is kept, was locked shut at about 12.50pm on December 31 though the lights inside were on.
Inside the office were three of Mr Fearne’s canvassers, all of whom employed at his ministry in Valletta, who, Dr Abela said, were allegedly inputting details for about 200 party supporters who had fallen behind in their membership fees. This, the complaint noted, would ensure these members would be eligible to vote on Saturday. The letter raises questions over whether this was an isolated incident since these people had been caught red-handed by chance.
“The logical question that arises is what other similar abuse has taken place in these sensitive days,” the letter adds.
This was clearly an attempt to compromise the entire electoral process. I am disgusted with my own party,” one source said. The letter calls for a thorough investigation that will include evidence by witnesses and examination of CCTV footage. Sources said both candidates had previously agreed with the party’s electoral commission to present a list of members who had fallen behind on their membership fees. While Mr Fearne had compiled about 200 names, Dr Abela had listed fewer than 20, they said.
“We had agreed on this process beforehand, now someone isn’t happy because they didn’t get as many names – tough luck,” a source said. A member of the electoral commission cast doubts on the claims that the election was being tampered with but was reluctant to get between the two candidates.
A spokesman for the PL said it’s electoral commission has always communicated its official positions or replies to the person raising an issue or presenting an official compliant throughout the electoral process. “The electoral process which will lead to the election of a new leader has numerous checks and balances and is being conducted with close collaboration with the candidates representatives as well as the candidates themselves,” he said.
Another story quotes Dr Vicki Ann Cremona, president of civil society group Repubblika who denied claims that the NGO intends to form a political party. Cremona said that it would, instead, continue to fight for the rule of law and against corruption.
Ci Consulta Media Monitoring Service.