Monday, 20 September 2010

Times: Sliema council saga - PN councillor ‘retracts’ signature

Thursday, 16th September 2010 by Christian Peregin

Sliema Nationalist councillor Edward Cuschieri said yesterday he told fellow councillors he would withdraw his support to a motion that could have placed him as deputy mayor instead of Cyrus Engerer.

The Labour Party’s online platform, which reported this latest development in the ongoing Sliema council saga, said Mr Cuschieri, 82, was “forced” to remove his name from the motion after being “threatened” he would be kicked out.

Party sources from both the PL and the PN confirmed that Mr Cuschieri promised to back down and apologised to some councillors who were ready to support him.

The retraction is not yet official and Mr Cuschieri is still refusing to comment to the press.

The PN asked Mr Cuschieri on Tuesday to withdraw his support for the motion, stressing that Mr Engerer had the party’s full backing.

The PN would not confirm yesterday that Mr Cuschieri withdrew his name but party sources said he had been in touch with the party and had given “reasons to believe” he would back down.

The motion, which claimed Mr Engerer was not mature or experienced enough for the role, would likely not have been accepted by the Director of Local Government because it was tabled before Mr Engerer became deputy mayor. The director, Martin Bugelli, is tomorrow expected to decide on whether the motion should be discussed or not.

Mr Engerer, 29, was, by law, next in line to become deputy mayor after the post was vacated by Joanna Gonzi who recently took over as mayor from Nikki Dimech when he was ousted by his own party.

While Mr Engerer garnered the third highest number of votes from the elected PN councillors in last year’s election, Mr Cuschieri had the least. However, Mr Cuschieri was supported by the three Labour councillors, Mr Dimech and councillor Sandra Camilleri, who resigned from the PN saying she felt bullied into signing a motion of no confidence against Mr Dimech.

Mr Dimech has been charged with soliciting a bribe and reviling a police officer. He is pleading not guilty.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Engerer said that while the council had gone through “a bad patch” he was confident that work could now continue for the benefit of Sliema residents.

“The PN still has the majority within the council and we will be working together with all other councillors for the benefit of our residents. I still believe we all have the benefit of the residents at heart,” he said.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

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