[WATCH] Busuttil: Muscat has lost control of situation

PN leader Simon Busuttil says Prime Minister “cannot control his own Cabinet” and "has failed his first real test of leadership", questions inquiry boards' discovery that Muscat had e-mailed Kurt Farrugia to verify shooting facts with police commissioner before going to sleep

Simon Busuttil accused the prime minister of being untrustworthy. Photo: Ray Attard
Simon Busuttil accused the prime minister of being untrustworthy. Photo: Ray Attard
Simon Busuttil: Muscat has failed leadership test

Although a new home affairs minister is expected to be sworn in imminently, Manuel Mallia is yet to resign because the Prime Minister is incapable of sacking him, PN leader Simon Busuttil said, adding that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat “is weak, cannot control his Cabinet and has failed in his first real test of leadership.”
Addressing a press conference this afternoon, Busuttil said that the Prime Minister’s indecisiveness was creating confusion and asked “How good is the Prime Minister’s political judgement if he took three weeks to come to a logical decision that was obvious from the start?”

Even then, he was too scared to sack Mallia and asked him to resign instead. How can people now trust the Prime Minister to take harder and less obvious decisions?”

He insisted that the inquiry into the shooting incident involving Mallia’s driver had failed to put people’s mind at rest because it did not uncover the whole truth.
Busuttil added that according to the inquiry, “before going to bed” the Prime Minister replied to an e-mail from Kurt Farrugia with the draft statement, to which the Prime Minister replied that facts should be verified with the police commissioner.
“How could the Prime Minister go to sleep when faced with such a situation? Is he a fit for purpose Prime Minister? Did he really go to sleep?” Busuttil asked, while repeating his challenge for Muscat to publish all his mobile phone call-logs on the night of the incident “to prove that he’s saying the truth and nothing but the truth”.

He also said that the inquiry board should have questioned Joseph Muscat and his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and that the testimonies received by the board should be published in full to ensure transparency.
While stressing that the inquiry showed that Mallia was responsible for the incorrect statement issued on the night of the incident, the PN leader said that the report absolved government’s head of communications Kurt Farrugia who authored the statement “to absolve the Prime Minister from his political responsibilities.”

“Since the board concluded that Mallia should shoulder political responsibility because he hadn’t checked the statement’s factuality, it’s logical that Farrugia has to shoulder responsibility as well. After all, he wrote the statement and had two and a half hours to verify the facts. The inquiry found nothing against Farrugia because if it had, then Muscat would have been politically responsible.”

He also expressed hope that Mallia’s super ministry’s portfolio of national security, citizenship, lands and public broadcasting is split up between different ministries.

When asked whether he has faith in new police commissioner Michael Cassar, Busuttil said that he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to ensure that the police force is run properly and that it charges people in court when required.

“The police force is in a state of distrust that it hasn’t been in for a long time,” Busuttil said. “We’ll wait and see whether Cassar will rise to the occasion.”

However, he criticised Muscat’s announcement that now-former police commissioner Ray Zammit will return to his previous role as Deputy Commissioner. 

“Zammit didn’t handle the situation professionally and he definitely had to shoulder responsibility but the Prime Minister needs to explain why he has now returned to a second-in-command position.

Cassar will now become the fourth police commissioner since Labour's election to government, following John Rizzo, Peter Paul Zammit and Ray Zammit.

“The government removed a very able police commissioner in John Rizzo,” Busuttil said.

However, Busuttil refused to respond to the inquiry board’s discovery that Mallia’s chief of staff Silvio Scerri had first told them that he had had nothing to do with the statement before later admitting that he had added the part that said that the shots were fired “in the air.

“Scerri will resign along with Mallia, so I have nothing to add about him,” Busuttil said.  

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