Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Malta: Robert Abela to replace scandal-tarnished Joseph Muscat as PM

Malta: Robert Abela to replace scandal-tarnished Joseph Muscat as PM

The new leader is to address the nation Sunday afternoon.

Robert Abela is set to become Malta's new prime minister after winning the Labor Party's leadership election early Sunday.

The count on Sunday showed Robert Abela received almost 58% of votes cast by members of the governing Labour Party eligible to choose the new leader. He will be sworn in on January 13.

Both candidates have acknowledged that recent weeks have been "difficult" for Malta, stopping short of criticizing Muscat but pledging to work to restore Malta's reputation overseas and citizens' confidence in the rule of law.

Muscat has been accused by Caruana Galizia's family of shielding friends and associates from the investigation.

Late previous year, a close aide to Muscat was questioned in connection with Caruana Galizia's killing, denied wrongdoing and was released while still under investigation.

Robert Abela told his supporters that he will press on with an agenda focused on "unity, equality, social mobility and justice".

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He promised that mistakes would not be allowed to repeat themselves, without going into specifics. "As a member of the European Union we want and we deserve better than this: good governance, rule of law", she said, adding that she was "fed up of hearing that I'm from a tax haven country".

Muscat has denied any wrongdoing regarding the murder case but has acknowledged he could have handled the aftermath better.

Born in June 1977 and a lawyer by profession, Abela has been serving as a member of the House of Representatives of Malta since 2017.

Joseph Muscat in a tweet said he was proud to hand over to Abela.

"We will continue to work with continuity and stability". "We need change." Martina Darmanin, a 24-year old academic, said the reporter's killing had been "a shock", and she had taken part in the regular demonstrations denouncing "the mafia in power".

Before the election results, activist groups question whether their successor would cause a real change in the Mediterranean country, which they say was taken by "criminals". Everyone, he said, should benefit from Malta's growing economy and he urged the business community to partner the government while not ignoring employees.

Fearne had the backing of most cabinet members but Abela had been closing the gap in the polls in the final week of the campaign, the Times of Malta reported.

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