Robert Abela is sworn in as prime minister

Robert Abela becomes Malta’s 14th prime minister during a swearing-in ceremony at the Palace in Valletta

Robert Abela greeting supporters ahead of his swearing in as Prime Minister. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Robert Abela greeting supporters ahead of his swearing in as Prime Minister. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
17:32 This blog ends here. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
17:32 Abela will now get to work on his Cabinet as Labour MPs and former ministers wait eagerly for that call from the new prime minister. Kurt Sansone
17:11 Inside Castille, Abela is welcomed by staff members. Kurt Sansone
17:03 Abela has arrived on the steps of Castille where he is mobbed by a crowd of well-wishers. Kurt Sansone
16:59 Chris Fearne is reported to be inside Castille waiting for Abela to arrive. Kurt Sansone
16:52 The bishops of Malta and Gozo have wished the new prime minister well in a statement. They augur that the sense of cooperation between the State and the church continues in respect of the institutions' respective autonomy. Kurt Sansone
16:35 Abela is now walking to Castille, in what is expected to be a long walk as he greets people, takes selfies with them and shakes their hands. Kurt Sansone
16:34 Asked about Chris Fearne's absence, Abela says that he has maintained regular contact with the deputy prime minister. 'I have been speaking to Chris Fearne and will be meeting him later on today... I already declared that I am ready to work with Chris Fearne.' Kurt Sansone
16:32 Abela does not lift the lid on his immediate decisions, insisting any decision will be communicated in due course. Kurt Sansone
16:31 In his first comments, Robert Abela says that he is ready to serve. Kurt Sansone
16:28 EPP chair Manfed Weber tweets: ‘Malta’s Prime Minister Muscat has finally resigned. However, the unresolved murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia still casts a dark shadow over the government. We stand by the Maltese people & will not rest until justice is done.’ Kurt Sansone
16:21 Journalists are waiting for Robert Abela to exit the Palace and give his first comments as prime minister. Kurt Sansone
16:11 Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat leave the Palace. Muscat is no longer prime minister after six years at the country's helm. Kurt Sansone
16:08 Abela has greeted people gathered in St George's Square from the Palace balcony to shouts of 'Robert, Robert'. Kurt Sansone
16:03 Abela's leadership rival, Chris Fearne, has so far not made an appearance and this morning sent his driver to clear his office at the health ministry. Kurt Sansone
15:46 He is now expected to slowly make his way to Castille. Kurt Sansone
15:41 Robert Abela is sworn in. He is now prime minister. Kurt Sansone
15:36 President George Vella has entered the hall. He will administer the oath of office to Robert Abela. Kurt Sansone
15:35 We are waiting for the ceremony at the Palace to start. Abela will become Malta's 14th prime minister. Kurt Sansone
15:30 Robert Abela has picked JobsPlus CEO Clyde Caruana, an economist, to be his chief of staff. Kurt Sansone
15:15 The couple now enter the Palace for the ceremony. Kurt Sansone
15:10 He is accompanied by his wife Lydia Abela and daughter Giorgia Mae. Kurt Sansone
15:09 Robert Abela has just arrived in St George's Square. He runs towards the people to shake hands and embrace them. Kurt Sansone
15:04 Neville Gafa, who has been Keith Schembri's side-kick at Castille, has also arrived for the swearing-in ceremony. Gafa appropriated Abela's slogan in favour of continuity in Facebook posts that were interpreted as digs towards Chris Fearne. Kurt Sansone
14:56 At 2pm outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat walked out of Castille for the last time, accompanied by his wife Michelle Muscat. Kurt Sansone
14:55 Abela's first major decision will be to choose his Cabinet but that can only happen after the swearing-in. Kurt Sansone
14:54 Members of the Labour Party parliamentary group, including Cabinet members, who have now formally stepped down, have been arriving at the Palace. Kurt Sansone
14:53 Abela's relatives have arrived at the Palace. Abela's father, president emeritus George Abela, was greeted with applause. George had been a deputy leader of the Labour Party in the 1990s and lost the leadership race to Joseph Muscat in 2008. Kurt Sansone
14:52 We are at the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta where newly-elected Labour leader Robert Abela will be sworn in as Malta's 14th prime minister. Kurt Sansone
14:48 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone

Robert Abela has been sworn in as Malta’s 14th prime minister in a ceremony at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.

The newly-elected Labour leader succeeds Joseph Muscat.

Abela was administered the oath of office by President George Vella, who had served as PL deputy leader alongside Abela’s father, George Abela, back in the 1990s.

The new prime minister was accompanied by his wife Lydia, daughter Giorgia Mae, and relatives. The Labour parliamentary group was also present, as were the employees at the Office of the Prime Minister, and PL officials.

Robert Abela's father, president emeritus George Abela. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Robert Abela's father, president emeritus George Abela. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Owen Bonnici was justice minister in the outgoing administration. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Owen Bonnici was justice minister in the outgoing administration. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Edward Scicluna greeting crowds outside the Palace. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Edward Scicluna greeting crowds outside the Palace. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Keith Schembri's side-kick, Neville Gafa, is also present for the swearing-in ceremony. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Keith Schembri's side-kick, Neville Gafa, is also present for the swearing-in ceremony. Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

Upon arriving at the Palace, Abela confounded his security when he ran towards the crowd gathered in St George's Square to greet the people. He took his time to shake hands and embrace well-wishers.

On Saturday, Abela emerged victorious in a race against Chris Fearne, obtaining the support of 57.9% of party members.

Abela will walk to the Office of the Prime Minister at Castille. He is then expected to meet the PL parliamentary group. Abela's first job as prime minister will be to appoint his Cabinet.

In an Instagram post this morning, outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wished Abela and his family well beneath a photo of the two families together.

READ ALSO: ‘Our ship is back on an even keel after the storm’, new Labour leader Abela tells supporters

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