Published: Wed, December 04, 2019

Malta PM to Resign in January 2020

Malta PM to Resign in January 2020

On state TV, Muscat stated that "in the coming time we will launch a process to have a new prime minister".

The head of an European Union mission to Malta has called on the country's embattled prime minister to quit immediately amid anger over his handling of the investigation into the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Protesters want Muscat to leave office now, and up to 4,000 demonstrators surrounded parliament on Monday evening.

Over the weekend, a multimillionaire business tycoon who authorities believe was the mastermind behind the vehicle bomb attack, Yorgen Fenech, was charged with complicity in her murder.

"I think everybody recognises, including the prime minister himself, that he has made some serious errors of judgment and I would say that staying on longer than necessary is another error of judgement", she said.

Reporting from the Maltese capital, Al Jazeera's Neave Barker said Muscat's pledge to resign in January had inflamed tensions further.

He has been arrested in a separate money laundering case.

Although the prime minister announced his resignation, his Labour Party confirmed its unanimous support for him.

The Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who is leading the European parliament's emergency fact-finding mission to Malta, said she was "not reassured" after meeting Joseph Muscat and his justice minister, Owen Bonnici.

Opposition lawmakers walked out of parliament in protest, hurling bundles of fake cash at the government benches as they left the chamber.

"The case showed that Malta's institutions work and everyone is equal before the law", he said.

In her investigation, Caruana Galizia had accused Muscat, his wife, Michelle, and three ministers - Keith Schembri, former Chief of Staff to the PM, Konrad Mizzi, former tourism minister, and Chris Cardona, economy minister - of being beneficiaries of shell companies listed in the Panama Papers.

The government has rejected his bid for a pardon. Schembri has denied any wrongdoing, the agency said.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a auto bomb in October 2017, eight months after she blogged about the Panama Papers leak, alleging Dubai-based 17 Black Ltd. was linked to some top Maltese politicians. He was one of three government officials who stepped down earlier this week after being named in the investigation.

Caruana Galizia was killed when a bomb exploded in her rental vehicle on 16 October 2017 outside her home in Bidnija.

Fenech, arrested as he tried to flee the island on his yacht, has claimed Muscat's former chief-of-staff Schembri was the "real mastermind" behind the killing, according to police sources. He was, however, released the next day and again arrested on 23 November.

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