‘Muscat blackmails Opposition’ – Busuttil says PM’s credibility dented

‘Message Muscat conveys is that everyone who is part of government is free to do whatever they liked’

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of blackmailing the PN after Muscat said in parliament he would “test him every month” shortly after publishing the inquiry into the 2012 death of Malian asylum seeker Mamadou Kamara.

Busuttil said Muscat had shown his anger at the Opposition for its part in bringing out the truth when Manuel Mallia’s driver Paul Sheehan fired twice at a car on 19 November.

“Our purpose is to ensure that this country is a normal country, where everyone carries out his duty,” Busuttil said, taking the PM to task over the “culture where anyone who feels part of the government can do whatever they liked.”

The PN leader said the message Muscat conveyed was that everyone was free to do whatever they liked, exemplified by prime minister’s hugging of former PL candidate Cyrus Engerer at a Labour meeting, after the latter was convicted by a criminal court.

Busuttil also said that Muscat had treated Mallia differently from his former deputy leader Anglu Farrugia, who was asked to resign after comments he passed on the judiciary.

He also denied that the Opposition had manipulated any of the recordings in its possession, after Muscat criticised the way the PN media had edited the recordings to apportion blame onto particular government officials.

He insisted that the inquiry Only served to delay the inevitable conclusion to the Mallia affair, when the true version of events was already known and what was needed was for political responsibility to be shouldered.

“I did not attack the independence of the judiciary… this was a mess of your making, and you had to clear it.”

Busuttil also poured scorn over claims that Muscat had retired on the night of the incident when his own communications coordinator was handling the matter.  “The police knew they were not warning shots, the minister knew, Kurt Farrugia knew, the people knew, and the prime minister did not? How could that be possible?”

Once again, Busuttil attacked Muscat’s political judgement, criticising the prime minister to be weak and abdicating his responsibilities to act immediately.

“And after the inquiry was issued, he did not even fire Dr Mallia, but left it up to him to resign. So could the people trust him to take decisions on their behalf?”

Busuttil also expressed doubt on Muscat’s willingness to remove Mallia.

“He had to go because he was the responsible minister and the inquiry showed that he knew about the statement before it was issued, and he knew that the shots that were fired were not warning shots.”

But he insisted that so did the communications coordinator at the Office of the Prime Minister, Kurt Farrugia, who actually wrote the statement, take responsibility.

“Now a Labour MP [Marlene Farrugia] has said that this is the beginning of the end of the Labour ‘movement’... the prime minister’s credibility has been severely dented and he has lost his moral authority.”

More in National