Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has resigned while Economy Minister Chris Cardona has suspended himself as pressure on the Muscat government mounts.
Mizzi resigned and Cardona suspended himself hours after the OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri also handed in his resignation. Cardona also suspended himself from the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party.
The developments come in the wake of investigations regarding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017.
Both Mizzi and Cardona remain as MPs.
A suspension means that Cardona will not be performing any ministerial duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cardona was summoned to the police depot last Saturday in connection with the investigation.
Mizzi has been intrinsically linked with Schembri following the revelations of the Panama Papers, after the two were caught having secretly opened a company in Panama.
Labour ministers and other exponents have said in the past that Mizzi should resign.
Mizzi had lost his energy and health portfolio in 2016 – and the Labour deputy leadership – following the Panama Papers leaks.
He was reappointed minister after being re-elected in 2017.
Over the past two days he has insisted that he has no links with 17 Black.
In a statement, the government said that Konrad Mizzi had resigned from the office of Minister for Tourism with immediate effect.
“He stated that he had resigned in the light of the political situation in the country, in the national interest and that of the Labour Party. He did so out of a sense of political duty, in order not to distract from an effective and serene leadership of the country,” the statement said.[embedded content]
Mizzi emphasised what he has repeatedly stated, including under oath, that he has no business connection with Yorgen Fenech, and no connection with 17 Black.
He further emphasised that the Electrogas contracts were scrutinised by the European Commission and by the Auditor General. Government had conducted discussions on the contracts through a professional negotiating team, and had answered detailed questions in regard to the contracts. He further confirmed that he has no connection and nothing to answer about in relation to the recent revelations of the investigation of Yorgen Fenech.
Mizzi expressed regret that politics in Malta has become polluted by suspicions fuelled by partisan politics. Following his resignation, he will be focussing on his parliamentary duties, and will continue to contribute to the Labour Party’s efforts.
He thanked his family, the employees of the Ministry and government departments who contributed to his Ministerial efforts, and the hardworking heroes of the Labour movement, the statement said.
In a statement, tthe Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Chris Cardona, said he “is suspending himself with immediate effect from his position as Minister pending the investigations and proceedings going on right now.
“This decision was taken following a discussion with the Prime Minister.
“Cardona declares that he has absolutely no connection with the case, but after Police had asked for further clarifications, he feels duty bound to take this step in the national interest.”
In a separate statement, the Labour Party said that he had suspended himself from the position of deputy leader for party affairs.
This decision was communicated to the to the party leader and administration.
The PL statement said that Cardona emphasised that he has no connection with the case, and is doing so until the investigations are over.
This is a developing story.