Joseph Muscat, PM who resigned under dark cloud, announces resignation as MP

Former Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigns from parliament

Over and out: former PM Joseph Muscat
Over and out: former PM Joseph Muscat

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced his resignation as member of parliament.

Muscat announced his resignation on Monday, as parliament convened after the summer recess.

The former PM said that he is proud of the accomplishments as leader of the country, and with the responsibilities he shouldered.

Prior to his announcement, Muscat said that his colleagues were not informed of his decision to resign.

Kif kont habbart fl-ahhar diskors tieghi bhala Prim Ministru u Mexxej Labursta, ghadni kif informajt lill-Ispeaker...

Posted by Joseph Muscat on Monday, October 5, 2020

He was Prime Minister of Malta from 2013 to December 2019, when his chief of staff Keith Schembri resigned after the 17 Black owner, Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, was arrested on suspicion of being the mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination. Schembri was the owner of secret companies in Panama which were connected to the 17 Black offshore company.

Last week marked the 12th anniversary when Muscat was sworn in Opposition leader, four months after clinching the Labour leadership in 2008.

In December 2019, Muscat faced mounting pressure and big protests in Valletta late last year, shortly after businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested and accused in court of masterminding Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Court testimony given by pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma, and statements made to the police by Fenech, showed how Schembri had passed on sensitive information about the murder investigation to Fenech.

Schembri, who was a close friend of Fenech, has denied the claims.

But Schembri is now also facing a police investigation into money laundering and kickbacks prompted by a magisterial inquiry concluded last month into allegations that he took money from his accountant Brian Tonna from the sale of citizenship to a Russian family.

Muscat had retained Schembri as chief of staff despite his name cropping up in the Panama Papers in 2016. The ex-prime minister had told ministers at the time that Schembri was a person of trust and he would be the one to take any decision on him.

Schembri was retained chief of staff after the 2017 election, escaping any sort of action in his regard until he resigned in November 2019 when Fenech was arrested.

Casual election

Muscat’s resignation from parliament will mean that a casual election will have to be held on the Second District.

The only two Labour candidates left unelected on the district are former parliamentary secretary Stefan Buontempo and Mark Causon, a former Alternattiva Demokratika candidate who shifted to Labour after 2008.