Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will resign amid protests of murder investigation of journalists
VALLETTA: malt Prime Minister Joseph Muscat , under fire for his handling of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said Sunday that he would resign after his replacement was elected in January.
Muscat declined to establish a link with the murder of Caruana Galizia in 2017, saying in a televised speech that he was resigning since this is what needs to be done.
The announcement came after two weeks of increasing pressure and popular protests asking Muscat to resign for his handling of the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia in a car bomb.
Muscat said he would resign after his successor was elected on January 12.
Earlier Sunday, the Labor leader received unanimous support from members of parliament at an emergency meeting called a day after tycoon Yorgen Fenech was accused of complicity in the murder. A court has also frozen Fenech's assets.
Research has shaken the southern Mediterranean island, reaching the highest levels of government.
Critics, including members of Caruana Galizia's family, have accused Muscat, 45, of protecting those involved in the murder of the popular journalist and blogger who exposed cronyism and sleaze within the political and commercial elite of the small country
I reiterate my deepest regret because a person who, with all its positive and negative qualities and his contribution to our country's democracy, was murdered in such a brutal manner, Muscat said on Sunday.
Justice is being done. And I will see that justice is for everyone. The investigations are not complete. No one is above justice, Muscat said.
Upon meeting at the Muscat summer house, parliamentarians on Sunday agreed to reinstate Chris Cardona as minister of economy and vice president.
Cardona had announced last week that he was being suspended when the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia, a mother of three, in a brutal attack involved senior government officials.
Last week, the scandal claimed the scalps of Muscat's main assistant and former tourism minister.
Police sources said Fenech had identified Schembri as the true mastermind behind the murder.
Caruana Galizia, described as a single-woman WikiLeaks, accused Schembri of corruption along with Mizzi and Cardona.
Caruana Galizia's family and thousands of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets calling for Muscat to resign.
Protesters, including the elderly parents of Caruana Galizia, marched through central Valletta on Sunday with signs saying Mafia and Daphne were right, beating Muscat as an obstacle to justice.
On Saturday, party experts told AFP that Muscat was ready to leave once those responsible for the murder were charged.
A European Parliament delegation is due to arrive on malt late Monday and stay until Wednesday.
Directed by Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld, she will examine doubts about the independence of the judiciary and investigate allegations of high-level corruption.
" malt is part of Europe," in't Veld tweeted. "This concerns us all."
The leaked emails revealed in court indicated that both Schembri and Mizzi were to receive payments from a Dubai company called 17 Black, owned by Fenech.
The murder investigation gained momentum after the tycoon's arrest last week, whose commercial interests cover the energy, casinos and tourism sectors.
His arrest came after an alleged intermediary in the murder, taxi driver Melvin Theuma, received immunity in exchange for identifying others involved.
Although Schembri, Muscat's former chief of staff, was arrested on Tuesday, his release on Thursday caused cover-up charges.
A Maltese court is expected to pronounce on a Fenech request on Monday for the head of investigators in the case, Keith Arnaud, to be removed amid accusations that he also had close ties with Schembri and the prime minister.