The Malta Independent 20 January 2020, Monday

TMID Editorial - Protests: Muscat, any blood will be on your hands

Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 08:49 Last update: about 3 months ago

The moment Prime Minister Joseph Muscat refused to resign immediately, was the moment that he assumed all responsibility for any damage or injuries that can result from the recent protests and possible future political gatherings.

Any blood will be on your hands, Muscat.

While announcing his resignation was indeed the only step forward, not doing so immediately further puts into question the ongoing murder investigation and case given his closeness to certain people who Yorgen Fenech has pointed the finger at. In short, the longer he stays in power, the more likely people are going to question the final outcome of the case.

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Indeed Muscat’s legacy will not be his majority, will not be the economic surplus, will not be jobs. His legacy will be images of barriers outside Parliament and Castille holding back protesters yelling ‘mafia’ and ‘corrupt’. He will be remembered for defending those who should have been removed from their positions years ago. His legacy will be one of claiming to take action, yet not doing so for months or years after he should have.

On the 2nd December, a protest took place outside Parliament, and demonstrators surrounded the exists to Parliament, even though they were kept far back by the large blockade of barricades set up by the police in Freedom square.

Indeed the as people were calling for Muscat’s immediate resignation, PL MPs were seen inside Parliament smiling and taking group selfies. This is seen as an attempt to incite protesters who are calling for democracy and the rule of law to reign supreme, who are rightly calling for the immediate resignation of a Prime Minister whose closest aid for the long time is being pointed at by the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. While the police released Schembri from arrest, questions surrounding Schembri are still very much causing concern.

One of the very people in the selfies taken by the MPs, either a driver, or aid to one of the MPs, had prior to this photo shoved and pushed a journalist who was trying to do her duty and ask politicians questions. This was unacceptable. Roughly at the same time as this happened, a gathering of PL supporters was held outside of the PL HQ, and Net News journalists were threatened, were rushed out of the area by PL security, and had glass objects thrown at them. This is unacceptable. The security did a good job in protecting the journalists. Our own journalists were also intimidated at the PL event.

One journalists have also been verbally targeted by protesters in the past, which is also not right.

An attack or threat made against a journalist is an attack or a threat against a pillar of democracy, against the fourth estate.

But Prime Minister, this is all your fault. You have turned Malta into a dysfunctional state by refusing to take immediate action and remove yourself from the seat of power. Stop thinking about the political fallout that resigning now would do, appoint an interim Prime Minister until a new and hopefully better PL leader is elected. Indeed there are a couple of great candidates who could lead the country.

At the same time, protesters need to stop yelling at police who are only doing their job. On the night between Thursday and Friday, when protesters tried to rush into Castille, they protected journalists. The police are just doing their job, do not insult, harass or make their lives difficult.

This is not a political issue. This is a national issue that needs to be resolved. There is no other way Muscat, leave now and let the country be at peace.  

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