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By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE UM, Majorcan Unionist Party is facing a very serious crisis after fraud prosecutors in the current investigation into the alleged misuse of public funds by former senior members of the party on Palma City Council recommended in the early hours of yesterday that the party as a whole be held responsible and civil bail be set at 1.6 million euros.

So far, 30 people have been questioned as part of “Operacion Picnic” and a duty judge set bail at 300'000 euros for the former UM Palma City Councillor for the Environment and director of the municipal water and refuse board Emaya, Cristina Cerdó early yesterday morning as well. Palma City Council's ex-coordinator for the Environment, Cerdó's number two, Paula Cortes, was set bail at 100'000 euros while the UM's former Councillor for Sport and Youth Affairs, Mateu Cañelles, was conditionally released but without bail being set after a long night of questioning about the allegedly suspicious awarding of contracts by their respective Majorcan Unionist Party-run departments in Palma City Council and the alleged use of public funds to secure votes.

However, the bombshell of the night came when the fraud prosecution said that the party should be made to pay for its apparent lack of civil responsibility and that the UM should be ordered to pay 1.6 million euros in civil bail. Sources close to the case claim that the prosecution has estimated that some 1.2 million euros of public funds were apparently misused by those implicated in Operacion Picnic.

If the bail is set for the party, then the Majorcan Unionists face having their accounts frozen and this will prevent the party from being able to run at the forthcoming local elections in May.

Sources for the UM admitted yesterday that the party does not have any where near that kind of money and party leader, Josep Melia, has called a meeting for midday today to discuss what the party can do.

One option, which 85 percent of the party agreed to press ahead with on Monday, is to dissolve the UM and change the name of the party.
But, that too has its problems.
The new party would be called Convergencia per les Illes Baleares but, that name has yet to be registered and the party runs the risk that the Home Office in Madrid will not accept the application to register the new party before the local elections.

Another problem is that a party called Convergencia Balear does already exist, so the UM may have to think of another name.
But, relaunching the party under a new name or not, yesterday, there were growing rumours that some senior members of the UM were considering breaking up the party all together.