[WATCH] Protest for justice draws small crowd, Abela: demonstration ‘unnecessary’

Civil society demonstrators gather outside Parliament in first protest since Robert Abela became prime minister

Activists have gathered outside Parliament to protest and call for justice
Activists have gathered outside Parliament to protest and call for justice

Protesters have gathered in Valletta on Wednesday evening for the first time since Robert Abela became prime minister.

The small crowd is a far cry from the large gatherings Valletta saw in December as the country was gripped by a wave of protests in the wake of shocking developments in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case.

On his way into Parliament, Robert Abela said he respected people's right to demonstrate but said the protest was "unnecessary".

"We have taken decisions and will continue doing so to ensure good governance," Abela said.

The demonstrators are calling for justice, while shouting "mafia".

People are banging on pots to deliver the message that there can be no good governance until former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his ex-chief of staff Keith Schembri, and former minister Konrad Mizzi face justice.

The protests were triggered after it emerged this week that Mizzi had been awarded an €80,000 consultancy contract with the Malta Tourism Authority last December. The contract has since been terminated but Abela came under fire for proposing Mizzi as the head of Malta's parliamentary delegation in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This nomination has also been withdrawn after the Opposition cried foul.

Despite the decisions taken over the past 24 hours to terminate the contract and withdraw the nomination, protestors still gathered outside Parliament to say that government u-turns were not enough and justice had to be served.

'Robert Abela following Joseph Muscat's governing style'

Addressing the protest, activist and former PN executive president Mark Anthony Sammut said that, just two weeks since a new prime minister took the helm, it was apparent that Robert Abela would be following Joseph Muscat's style of government.

This was evident from the fact that while former police commissioner resigned his post, he was quickly given a government consultancy post. The same was so of former Gozo minister Justyne Caruana, who was given the role of Consideration of Bills Committee chairperson.

Former minister Konrad Mizzi was also nominated to head the delegation to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - which promotes human rights - only for the nomination to then be withdrawn. "This was an insult to the people," Sammut said.

"We will not tolerate resignations in place of justice," Sammut said, "[...] We will keep coming until justice is done, not just with Daphne Caruana Galizia, but with all the Maltese."

Activist Manuel Delia noted that Abela had to date not yet condemned the behaviour of Muscat, Mizzi and the prime minister's former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

"Since he didn't condemn them, he is telling us that he is one of them and is protecting them," Delia said.

He said that the day Caruana Galizia was killed, the way democracy worked in Malta was forever changed. "We will never leave anyone alone again in their fight," he said.

Delia said civil society would keep piling pressure upon the government until "those who stole the country's money and its democracy" ended up in handcuffs.

More in National