Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to depart in January

By Allen Cone
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to depart in January
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced Sunday he will resign from his post on Jan. 18. File Photo by Domenic Aquilina/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Joseph Muscat announced Sunday he will leave as Malta's prime minister and Labour Party chief n January amid an investigation of a murdered journalist investigating corruption.

Muscat, who has been in power since March 11, 2013, said on national television in the central Mediterranean nation he will ask the ruling party to choose his successor on Jan. 12. His second term was to end in 2021.


"Malta needs to start a new chapter and only I can give that signal," Muscat said during the address, which included a recitation of the government's achievements over the past 6 1/2 years.

He had met for four hours with Labour's parliamentary group during which they gave "unanimous support to all decisions which the prime minister will be taking."

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In the capital, Valletta, protesters gathered to demand Muscat's immediate resignation.

Demands for his departure grew after businessman Yorgen Fenech was charged Saturday with complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Fenech denies the allegations. In 2017, Galiza was killed by a car bomb as she investigated corruption among Malta's business and political elite.


Fenech was identified in 2016 as the owner of Dubai-registered 17 Black in the Panama Papers, a collection of leaked confidential documents showing how wealthy and powerful companies around the world use tax havens to get around the law.

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Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri and acting tourism minister Konrad Mizzi {link:resigned Tuesday "" target="_blank"}. They have denied any wrongdoing though they had been accused of corruption by the journalist.

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio and their friend Vincent Muscat have been charged with triggering the bomb. They have pleaded not guilty in pre-trial proceedings.

Members of her family have said the prime minister should resign because he had failed to take action to clean up politics in Malta.

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Muscat said investigations were ongoing and insisted "no one is above the law."

"It is not right that a person, with her good and bad, who contributed to democracy had to be killed this way... The anger and disappointment are understandable and it is never justified to somehow justify the murder. But neither can disorder and violence be justified under the guise of protest," Muscat said.

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