23 APRIL 2003

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Eyes on MLP executive meeting

By Kurt Sansone
The Labour Party executive meets this evening to decide on the timeframe for the general conference, which is likely to be held on 22 May. The executive is also expected to discuss the leadership issue after Alfred Sant’s public declaration that he does not intend contesting the post of leader.
Meanwhile, the groundwork is still being laid for a leadership contest that has been characterised by an uncanny silence from possible contenders who are wary that the Labour leader may yet change his mind at the final hour.
Any contest that includes Sant is considered by possible contenders as a non-starter because the Labour leader could very well ride on a wave of sympathy and carry the day hands down.
The only public statement till now was that made by John Attard Montalto, who said that he was interested in contesting the post of leader. The other oft-mentioned possible contenders, Evarist Bartolo and George Abela, are keeping their cards close to their chest. Both are biding their time to gauge their support from party delegates.
George Abela is a favourite among delegates and officials clamouring for a clean sweep of the current MLP leadership and administration. The charismatic lawyer also enjoys wide support among GWU officials.
The two posts for deputy leaders may also be challenged in the general conference and both Jose Herrera and Leo Brincat have publicly declared that they would like to contest for one of the posts of deputy leader. Brincat, however, told online news site di-ve.com that he would contest George Vella’s post only if the former foreign minister decided to step down. Vella has not made his intentions known yet.
Brincat is known to be in the same group as Evarist Bartolo, which is looked favourably upon by the current MLP administration.
Election manager Michael Falzon, who has declined to comment, is reportedly interested in contesting Joe Brincat’s role as deputy leader for party affairs.
However, with the MLP media machinery is solidly in the hands of Sant’s loyal supporters leadership contenders are worried that they may not stand a chance. Super One played a major role in politically crushing Dom Mintoff in 1998. The station was also crucial in swaying delegates against former deputy leader George Abela in between the first and second days of the MLP extra-ordinary general conference in the summer of 1998, which decided on an early election. Abela had addressed delegates on the first day and spoke against the holding of an early election. His comments came as a bolt in the blue and Super One swung into action to downplay Abela’s remarks.
As yet few people within Labour’s fold have expressed their support for a change in leadership and those who have, have done so in the independent press or the GWU’s newspapers.
What Alfred Sant finally decides to do is being deemed very crucial and few people are ready to risk their political skin unless they are certain that the current leadership and administration will change.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
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