[WATCH] Protesters mark Republic Day with calls for Muscat’s resignation

Protesters have gathered in Valletta to call for Joseph Muscat’s immediate resignation amid the Republic Day celebrations and a heavy police presence

Protesters have gathered in Valletta amid Republic Day celebrations to demand the immediate resignation of Joseph Muscat
Protesters have gathered in Valletta amid Republic Day celebrations to demand the immediate resignation of Joseph Muscat

As Malta celebrates Republic Day, protesters have gathered in Valletta to reiterate their call for the Prime Minster to step down immediately.

The protest, organised by civil society NGO Repubblika and activists #OccupyJustice and Manuel Delia, comes in the wake of weeks of demonstrations brought on by revelations emerging from the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigations.

The protesters have lined Republic Street from Parliament through to the the area close to St George’s Square, where the annual Republic Day commemorations will be taking place.

Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's parents are amongst the protesters
Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's parents are amongst the protesters

In the midst of the protest, an Armed Forces of Malta parade, accompanied by the army band, is marching along Republic Street.

There is a strong law enforcement presence, including numerous police officers in plain clothes, in an effort to avoid a potential confrontation between the protesters and those partaking in the celebrations. The sides of Republic Street are barricaded.

The protesters are shouting "out" and "corrupt". The President was booed and fake money was thrown towards his car as it proceeded down Republic Street towards St George's Square.

President George Vella was booed as his car proceeded down Republic Street
President George Vella was booed as his car proceeded down Republic Street

An military ceremonial parade, which will be attended by the President and Deputy Prime Minister, will be taking place soon.

‘Our Republic is bleeding’ - Graffitti

In a statement, Moviment Graffitti said that as celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Malta are under way, it was clear that the “country is suffering from painful consequences of a betrayal which saw those at the highest echelons of power putting first the interests of a small clique of people rather than the interests of the populace at large.”

Candles and flowers have been placed by Daphne Caruana Galizia's memorial at the foot of the Great Siege Monument, which was guarded by activists throughout the night to prevent it being cleared
Candles and flowers have been placed by Daphne Caruana Galizia's memorial at the foot of the Great Siege Monument, which was guarded by activists throughout the night to prevent it being cleared

“These past few weeks we have seen openly exposed the lethal combination between politics and big business; a combination which has led to a journalist being assassinated, among other things,” Graffitti said.

“However, the ugly consequences of a system which unabashedly allows the privileged and the wealthy among us to take decisions which impinge greatly on our lives has been felt for a long number of years,” it said.

Graffitti noted that, during the past 20 years, Malta had borne witness to several acts of privatisations; public land grabbing of its assets; cases of corruption with no legal closure; and policies which favoured and accommodated big business at all costs.

“This rotten state of affairs has been allowed to develop in a context where we see the two main political parties exerting huge control over our society and institutions, and which prioritise their party’s lust for power over the interests of the people. In fact, these institutions are mostly headed by state functionaries which were put in office deliberately to submit to the will of politicians and businessmen.”

The NGO said that the nation need only look at the dismal state of the country’s natural environment - particularly the issuing of countless and senseless permits to serve the interests of businessmen and patronage networks, and policies which were tailor-made to accommodate the interests of developers - to get a clear understanding of how the forces of power operated in Malta and the tragic consequences which ensue.

“However, now that we are facing this crisis, we can also take advantage of the opportunity to bring about real, changes, as opposed to a superficial one,” Graffitti said, “We have the opportunity to demand a new kind of politics which favours the people and which allows for fair wages and suitable housing for everyone; which gives priority to our natural environment and quality of life; where independent and transparent institutions which serve our country, rather than political parties or businesses, are the norm and not the exception.”

Graffitti added that it hoped the grief Malta was experiencing would help its people recognise the malady which had afflicted the country and lead to the healing of its scare.

“History teaches us that the people have the power to bring about the change they wish for. Republic Day is testimony to this fact.”

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