The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Labour leadership election slated for 18 January

Saturday, 30 November 2019, 14:30 Last update: about 9 months ago

An election to replace Joseph Muscat as leader of the Labour Party, and eventually Prime Minister, is slated for 18 January, sources told The Malta Independent.

It is not yet known if the PM will remain at the helm until then, or if he will be resigning earlier and an acting leader appointed.

If more than two candidates are interested in the job, a first election will be held on 8 January to choose the two “finalists”.

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This development comes in the wake of growing pressure on Muscat to leave so as not to cause more harm to how own government and Malta.

The PM will himself make a statement announcing that he will be stepping down and kick start the leadership race, source at the Labour Party said.

Next week, the Labour government will be officially midway through its term in office. The last election was held on 3 June, 2017, and the result was known the next day. Muscat took his oath of office as Prime Minister on 5 June.

The government has so far denied reports that the Cabinet is split on the idea of Muscat stepping down, but the latest developments in the case have sped up the transition process.

Muscat met President George Vella on Friday and it is believed that the two spoke about Muscat's resignation.

Muscat had said that he had intended to leave the premiership before the next election, and there had been indications that he would have stepped down as early as last September if he had been given a job within the European Union structure.

But that plan failed and he had been forced to prolong his stay as leader. The latest developments - with his chief of staff arrested for questioning in connection with the murder, as well as the resignation of a minister and the self-suspension of another - have forced the issue. A court ruling placing three ministers under investigation on the VGH deal was only the latest in events that added more pressure on the PM to go.

Calls for his resignation have been coming from all quarters, with civil society and NGOs taking to the streets almost every day to push him to resign. Constituted bodies, including employers, have also repeatedly asked for action to be taken to restore stability in the country.

Muscat has said that he will stay on because the country needs his leadership, with detractors, including the Opposition Leader, saying that his presence is adding to the country's instability.

Deputy leader Chris Fearne, Transport Minister Ian Borg and MEP Miriam Dalli have all been named as possible contenders for the leadership, but there could be the possibility of outsiders going for the job.

 

 

 

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