Malta's PM announces resignation

The prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, has announced that he will resign in January. Prior to the announcement Muscat's chief of staff and two ministers had already either resigned or suspended themselves from duty. Muscat's government has come under growing pressure over its alleged involvement in the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat's step was overdue, Europe's press writes.

Open/close all quotes
Times of Malta (MT) /

Muscat must resign immediately

It's unacceptable that the PM only wants to step down in the new year, the Times of Malta puts in:

“The EU has its eyes on Malta. Muscat and his ministers will enter any meetings, whether with local or foreign officials, shorn of credibility and under a cloud of shame. ... What is needed is a calming of the waters and a steadying of the ship of State. That can only happen if Muscat is immediately replaced by the deputy Prime Minister - now, not in January. If Muscat does not do it, his MPs must pick up the courage to force him out.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Behaviour unworthy of a state leader

Joseph Muscat put off resigning for far too long, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Malta's prime minister long pretended he would ensure that a full investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was launched. But that's exactly what he didn't do. It's unbelievable that in an EU member state a courageous journalist who uncovered facts that were dangerous to powerful politicians was murdered in a mafia-style killing. It's also unbelievable that for years Muscat covered up for and governed with politicians who were facing serious accusations. When his chief of staff and confidant had to step down due to alleged links to the culprits, Muscat openly expressed his regret. It would be hard to do more to discredit oneself as the custodian of a constitutional state.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Joseph Muscat's three musketeers

The spirit of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the murder investigation are finally bringing down those who did everything in their power to fight Daphne and her journalism, investigative journalist Carlo Bonini comments jubilantly in La Repubblica:

“The government of Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is collapsing like a house of cards within the space of a day. In the morning came the resignation of Keith Schembri, the PM's chief of staff. ... Then at around 3 p.m. the Minister of Tourism Konrad Mizzi resigned, and finally the Minister of Economic Affairs Chris Cardona suspended himself. Schembri, Mizzi and Cardona are Joseph Muscat's three musketeers. ... Backed up by a pact that Daphne Caruana described as 'corrupt' and which, thanks to the investigation, has now been confirmed as such. These are the same men that Muscat has fiercely defended since 2016, despite all the evidence of their ambiguity.”

The Malta Independent (MT) /

PM should step down

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is too implicated in the scandal to remain in office, The Malta Independent writes:

“We do not see any way in which he could be able to slip and slide out of this one because, as said, the gross inaction and dereliction of duty in not removing Schembri and Mizzi immediately or at any other point (yesterday they both resigned, they were not fired) shows either complicity or extremely poor judgement. It is, after all, one or the other and of that there is no question. And that is something that we can ill afford from the man leading the country, especially not at the most delicate juncture.”

Financial Times (GB) /

The EU must protect its journalists

This murder case shows that within the EU it is not only in certain parts of Central and Eastern Europe that the rule of law is under threat, the Financial Times warns:

“If the EU is to be any kind of beacon of free speech and democracy, it cannot see such incidents go unpunished in any member state. The Maltese case is a reminder, too, that threats to EU rule of law come not just from 'illiberal' regimes in central European members. They may emanate from the pernicious influence of organised crime, official corruption and money laundering across the 28-nation bloc. Countering these means protecting not just the police, investigators and judges who prosecute crimes, but the media who work to uncover them.”