Malta prime minister Joseph Muscat to resign in new year


Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced on national TV that he will step down in the new year, amid a crisis over a murdered journalist.

He said he would ask the ruling Labour Party to begin the process to choose his successor on 12 January.

Demonstrators have demanded his immediate resignation over the inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

She was killed by a car bomb in 2017 as she investigated corruption among Malta’s business and political elite.

A businessman with alleged links to government officials was charged with complicity in the murder on Saturday.

Explaining his decision to quit, Mr Muscat said of the way the murder inquiry had been handled: “Some decisions were good while others could have been better made.”

“All the responsibility I had to shoulder surely does not compare to the pain that the victim’s family is enduring,” he added.

He said he would resign as leader of the Labour Party on 12 January and as prime minister “in the days after”.

Mr Muscat has been in power for six years, winning two elections by a landslide and presiding over a period of prosperity and social reform in the EU’s smallest member state.

“Malta needs to start a new chapter and only I can give that signal,” Mr Muscat said.

He took the decision after a four-hour meeting with Labour’s parliamentary group, at which MPs gave “unanimous support to all decisions which the Prime Minister will be taking”.