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NEWS | Sunday, 15 June 2008

Arnold Cassola elected new AD leader

Charlot Zahra

In his first speech as new Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) chairperson, Arnold Cassola pledged that the Green Party would judge the Gonzi administration on a case-by-case scenario.
Speaking during AD’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Sliema yesterday morning, Cassola said: “Since we want the general good of the country, I think we should judge the government on the individual merits of each proposal. We should not oppose everything the government says an ideogical basis.
“We should support wholeheartedly the government when it does and says something which is good. I have no problem in supporting Gonzi when he says that he wants to make an environmental revolution… Should we not support Austin Gatt when he says that he wants to make a revolution in the transport sector? Of course!
“At the same time, we have to be equally clear when things are not done properly, such as, for instance, when Gonzi met surreptitiously the Armier squatters, promising them public land to gain a few votes,” Cassola insisted.
Cassola said the party will be asking for separate meetings with the Prime Minister and the new Labour leader to kick off discussions to achieve consensus about the appointment of a new President in less than nine months’ time.
Cassola thanked all those party delegates who showed faith in him by voting for him as the new AD chairperson. “I hope that I will be worthy of your trust. It is not easy to follow in the steps of Harry (Vassallo) after nine years. You have to understand me, but I have to gather myself to reach the same level that Harry reached during his work,” he said to the laughter of all those present.
Paying tribute to the outgoing leader, who has been serving the green party since 1999, Cassola said: “I have known Harry in AD for the past 19 years, and ten years before. We have been arguing about the party since the day before. For all those who know Harry, he has made tremendous sacrifices on a personal level, on a professional level as well as on a financial one. Many people are not aware of this.”
Referring to the report on the party’s electoral performance during the last general election, Cassola said that he shouldered the responsibility for the party’s failure to get across the message about its policies other than the environment to the electorate.
“We need to increase our presence on a local level and improve our relationship with the grassroots and speak on bread and butter issues like transport, health, energy, work, pensions. Yes, these are things that the people speak about and face on a daily basis.
“We have to translate the vision that Harry put so eloquently forward into day-to-day issues, because at the end of the day, people will not vote for you if they cannot make ends meet.”
Cassola said that the party had to prepare effectively as from now for the next electoral challenge with the local and EP elections in a year’s time, marshalling volunteers and candidates as from now. The party still needed to convince those people who did not vote in the last general elections to vote for AD next time around, Cassola said.
Secretary-general Victor Galea was also re-elected at the AD EGM.

czahra@mediatoday.com.mt


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