Malta’s President George Vella has appealed for calm over the ongoing political crisis before the damage to the island’s reputation becomes irreparable.
“With every passing day, the expectation on me to help avoid the worst possible outcome continues to grow,” Vella said in a televised address to the nation. “I’ve already explained in a previous statement what parameters the Constitution allows me to work in and I assure you I’m doing everything that is constitutionally possible.”
The President said that every social partner within the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development had warned him today of the economic consequences of the current political crisis.
“I urge everyone, from the big to the small, to measure the consequences of their actions,” he said. “I reiterate my call for calm and for everyone to be aware of their responsibilities.”
“In a calmer environment, free of spontaneous reactions, we’ll be able to weigh out the circumstances we’re passing through and unite so that together, without looking at faces, we’ll ensure our institutions are allowed to do their job and that justice is served.”
“Then alone will be able to slowly, slowly return to a state of normality, and this before the damage that is being inflicted on Malta in several sectors, including internationally, becomes irreparable. I once again call for a sense of respect towards our country and the values we endorse. Malta deserves better.”
Vella’s statement comes amidst a period of political turmoil brought about after Yorgen Fenech, who has been charged with the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, implicated the Prime Minister’s now-former chief of staff Keith Schembri in the murder.
Joseph Muscat has announced he will step down as Labour Party leader on 12th January and as Prime Minister a few days later. However, protestors have called for Muscat to step down immediately, warning that his closeness to Schembri, who has described the Prime Minister as his best friend, risks hindering the ongoing investigations.
Protestors gathered in front of the police headquarters in Floriana this evening to demand Schembri’s immediate arrest. To drive their point home, they pinned a large copy of a letter written by alleged murder middleman Melvin Theuma, in which he names both Fenech and Schembri, to the gates of the depot.
In the handwritten letter, which was found during a raid of Fenech’s Portomaso properties, Theuma appears to have voiced his fears Fenech and Schembri were working to eliminate him.