Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will only speak about the road ahead after the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation is closed, a government statement read.
Sources had told The Malta Independent that it is Muscat’s intention to call a leadership race , with the new Prime Minister expected to be in office by mid-January 2020. The PL’s political activity, that was set to be held in Fgura this Sunday, has now also been cancelled.
This newsroom is informed that the majority of Cabinet yesterday told Muscat that they did not feel that his position was tenable, adding that they were fed up of “defending the indefensible.” In a statement later in the day, the government said that it was not true that the majority of Cabinet expressed a lack of confidence in Muscat.
The government said that at no time during the Cabinet meeting was trust in Muscat brought up. “As was already said during a press conference in the early hours of the morning, Cabinet met yesterday to discuss Yorgen Fenech’s Presidential pardon and the advice given by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner.”
The statement then made referecne to Cabinet unanimously giving a vote of confidence to the Prime Minister last week.
“Muscat will remain focused on the country’s priority, to close one of the largest criminal cases in it’s history, as he promised, and it would just be at that moment when he will answer and speak about the road ahead.”
Sources had told The Malta Independent that the issue of Yorgen Fenech’s presidential pardon, which ultimately was not granted, only took up two hours of the marathon seven-hour long cabinet meeting, with the rest of the time being taken up by a discussion on the country’s future, and whether Muscat’s position in power is still tenable.
Although earlier this week Muscat said that he had the unanimous backing of his Parliamentary Group and the Labour Party’s executive, sources told this newsroom that the majority of Ministers and parliamentary secretaries believe that, given how the situation has developed, Muscat’s position is no longer tenable.
The general feeling is that the people involved in this case are too close to home – a reference to the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, who was released from arrest yesterday, and former Ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona, the latter having been questioned by the police over the course of last weekend – and that they are fed up of “defending the indefensible”.
A cabinet meeting was urgently called on Thursday night, and dragged on until three-o-clock in the morning, after which the Prime Minister emerged to announce that the request for a presidential pardon submitted by Yorgen Fenech, the prime suspect in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, had been rejected unanimously by the cabinet.
Yesterday, The Malta Independent revealed that Muscat was on the verge of resigning last Sunday but was convinced to stay on by cabinet advisor and former deputy prime minister, Louis Grech and Lands Authority CEO, James Piscopo.
Sources said the duo spent most of Sunday at the Prime Minister’s Burmarrad residence and managed to convince him so stay on.
Calls for Muscat’s resignation started last week, mainly from civil society groups and the independent media, and intensified on Tuesday morning after his Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, resigned shortly after being arrested and questioned by police in connection with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Schembri has since been released, with the police noting that it does not deem it necessary for Schembri to remain under arrest.
Labour sources told this newsroom that a number of key people have again started preparing for an eventual leadership contest.
These include PL MEP Miriam Dalli, who is considered to be the OPM’s favourite, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, who is the OPM’s least favoured candidate, and transport minister Ian Borg.
PL urges people not to gather in front of CNL – no communication with PM in last hours
Over the past hours, there has been no communication with the Office of the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister, himself, Joseph Muscat, a post read on the PL’s Facebook page.
For this reason, the PL is insisting that no one should gather outside the Labour Party Headquarters, or any other places, as is being requested through messages on social media. The PL continued to note that the Prime Minister has declared, and was “very clear”, that he is focusing on the needs of the country, so as “under his watch” one of the most serious cases that have ever happened in our country is solved.