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Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:44 GMT

MPs Back Malta PM to Maintain his Post Despite Protests


7Dnews London

Sun, 01 Dec 2019 20:57 GMT

Malta's prime minister has won his party's support to stay on in his post despite demonstrators' calls for him to go for his handling of a probe into the murder of a popular journalist that occurred in 2017, AFP reported.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat got the unanimous support of Labour MPs at an emergency meeting, a day after businessman Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in the murder of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Critics, including Caruana Galizia's family, have accused Muscat, 45, of protecting those involved in murdering the popular journalist who exposed cronyism among the political and business elite in the southern Mediterranean island.

"The entire group was supportive of Joseph Muscat, and we told him that it's for him to choose when to step down," a party insider told AFP after Sunday's meeting.

Described as a "one-woman Wikileaks," Caruana Galizia accused Keith Schembri of corruption along with Konrad Mizzi and Christian Cardona.

Caruana Galizia's family and thousands of people have repeatedly protested, calling for Muscat's resignation.

The Council of Europe's special rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt also called last week on the Labour PM to step down "at the earliest possible opportunity." Yet Muscat insisted he would remain in power until the case was "closed."

Meanwhile, a European Parliament delegation is due to arrive in Malta late Monday, December 2nd and stay until Wednesday to examine doubts about the judiciary's independence and investigate allegations of high-level corruption.

"Malta is part of Europe," Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld tweeted, adding, "This concerns us all."

Anti-government protesters were set to hold new protests outside the parliament in Valletta on Sunday, December 1st.