Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned on Monday January 13th, AFP reported. He is replaced by Labour Party colleague Robert Abela, who promised a better standard of living for Malta residents but failed to mention the murder of a reporter who highlighted corruption on the island.
Abela, 42, won a solid 58% of his party’s vote to succeed Muscat, who announced last month he was stepping down owing to the public outcry surrounding the 2017 car bomb death of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
After taking the oath of office, Abela promised to "improve the quality of life" for Maltese but had no comment either on the killing of Caruana Galizia, known as a "one-woman WikiLeaks," or the corruption she denounced.
Three men are on trial for allegedly detonating the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia. A fourth – powerful businessman Jorgen Fenech – was charged as an accomplice after being arrested as he tried to leave the country on his yacht.
According to a Reuters report, Muscat is not directly implicated in the murder case. However, testimony by the self-confessed middleman in the murder plot linked his chief of staff and childhood friend Keith Schembri to attempts at an alleged cover-up.
The arrest of Fenech in November prompted the resignation of tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, an ex-energy minister, and Schembri.
While Abela, who is a lawyer by profession, has promised to uphold the rule of law, he still needs to convince the Maltese that their political system will improve. As Caruana Galizia's sister Corinne Vella told AFP in an interview, "How can you have good governance and you're taking the place of a man who's leaving because of a murder?"
She added that Malta's criminal justice system is "broken".
“I am relieved that we have change,” said housewife Natalia Busuttil, “because with the things that were happening in Malta, Malta was not in a good state. So, I think it is a good change now." She also mentioned the government had not delivered either on tackling corruption or low wages.