Muscat: ‘I will not abdicate my duty… Labour will do its full term’

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat rules out possibility of an early election and a 2020 exit

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that he will not be abdicating from his role as Prime Minister and has indicated that he will lead the government for its full term until the end of the current legislature.

His statement comes amidst reports that Muscat is planning a 2020 exit when some closure on the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation is expected to be reached. His comments to One Radio on Sunday morning also ruled out an early election.

“I will not abdicate just yet. We will do our full term. I will remain focused to keep leading this country. I’m not a fair-weather sailor. I sail in bad weather and I'll keep doing so the way people told me to do in the last general election,” Muscat said.

Muscat has also justified his updates to the media on the Caruana Galizia murder investigation amid Opposition criticism that he was acting in the role of ‘police commissioner’ in a case that could implicate his own office.

“I also feel I have to tell the people what's going on and not leave them in the dark. Whoever criticised me for speaking out had also criticised me in the past of leaving people in the dark,” Muscat said.

He alluded to former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami's press conferences back in 2001 on cases of bribery of magistrates, where Joseph Zammit also known as ‘is-Sei’, had admitted to bribing former Chief Justice Noel Arrigo. Muscat said that he was more prudent than Fenech Adami at the time because he made sure to not prejudice the investigation, keeping mum on sensitive matters that could be used in a court of law.

In the last few days, Electrogas investor and businessman Yorgen Fenech was identified by the police as a “person of interest” in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation. He was taken in for questioning following the arrest of suspected middleman Melvin Theuma. 

“While I understand that there are many who are confused, we should let the institutions work serenely in the coming days. The situation will be clear soon. I am here to assure that the country keeps moving forward,” Muscat said.

PN says Muscat should shoulder political responsibility

The Nationalist Party said in a statement on Sunday that Muscat's refusal to dismiss his chief of staff Keith Schembri and ministers that might be implicated with Fenech is grounds for his own resignation. 

"Joseph Muscat continues to bury his head in the sand and carries on with business as usual. He continues to shy away from the truth and from parliamentary discussion against the opinions of critics and the independent media," the statement read.

The PN criticised the Prime Minister for assuming the roles of supposedly independent institutions in breach of the rule of law principle. 

"The Prime Minister should shoulder responsibility and immediately remove his chief of staff and the main ministers implicated in this national saga. His inaction at this stage is reason enough for him to also file his resignation."