The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Watch: Konrad Mizzi kicked out of PL Parliamentary Group

Kevin Schembri Orland & Albert Galea Tuesday, 23 June 2020, 21:28 Last update: about 19 days ago

Konrad Mizzi has been unceremoniously kicked out of the PL Parliamentary Group after a decision was taken by the group itself and the PL Executive Committee, Prime Minister and PL Leader Robert Abela said Tuesday evening.

It was a near unanimous decision, as 71 of the 73 attendees voted for him to no longer be part of the group, while there was one abstention and one vote against.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not attend the meeting.

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Prime Minister Robert Abela had earlier in the day asked Konrad Mizzi to resign from the PL Parliamentary Group, but the former energy minister said he did not agree in a Facebook post. This led to the holding of the meeting later in the evening, with the Labour parliamentary group and executive deciding to dismiss him.

Mizzi has been under fire again after the recent Montenegro scandal revelations, the last in a string of scandals which started off with the Panama Papers, continued with the privatisation of three public hospitals and more recently the windfarm deal in Montenegro.

Last week it was reported that 17 Black - the Dubai company belonging to Yorgen Fenech - made a profit of €4.6 million from Enemalta's purchase of the windfarm project. The project was first acquired, for €2.9 million, by Seychelles-based company Cifidex, which later sold it to Enemalta for €10.3 million. Cifidex borrowed the €2.9 million from 17 Black. It eventually repaid the €3 million to 17 Black, plus a €4.6 million 'profit share', according to reports.

Abela, speaking outside the PL HQ, faced journalists after the meeting took place at around 9pm. He said that 71 out of 73 people eligible to vote backed the motion that was presented, while one person opposed and one abstained. Konrad Mizzi joined the meeting online as he is still under quarantine since his return from the UK. The vote taken was secret.

The Prime Minister faced questions as to why the decision to kick Mizzi out was taken now, and not years ago. "When I announced my Cabinet, Mizzi was not appointed to a post. Mizzi was never part of the government I led. He was only an MP. Over the past days, new allegations surfaced, and I must be clear I am not judging Mizzi from a legal aspect. Here we are judging his political position."

"I believe our standards as a party and as government are of the highest level."

He said that "we have set the highest standards of governance and ethics." Abela added that if he was Prime Minister in 2016, one of the first decisions he would have taken would have been removing Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Asked about what will happen to Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister said that Muscat's situation is different. "The decision on Konrad Mizzi was taken because of the implications that there were, that he had connections with the Panama Papers, with 17 Black. In Joseph Muscat's case there are no such allegations. The mistake Joseph Muscat made was that he did not take the decision at the opportune time and for that mistake he paid the highest political price."

Abela did not answer when asked whether he is pleased with Joseph Muscat. Asked whether he will be keeping Joseph Muscat on as a consultant, the Prime Minister said that Joseph Muscat is not a consultant of his. "Joseph Muscat is just an MP, he is not a consultant. His only involvement was when we were creating the economic regeneration plan worth €900 million with many more people, he gave his views and I took my decision."

The Prime Minister also said that there will not be an early election, as rumours had been making the rounds about this. "We have two years left in which we want to do a lot of good for the people."

Asked if there will be an investigation into everything that Mizzi did when he was a minister, the Prime Minister said that a new Police Commissioner was appointed, for whom a public grilling took place earlier this week. He said that he will not interfere in the work of the police and allow them to conduct all the investigations and prosecutions they feel are needed. He said that the police will have all the resources they feel are needed to conduct their work.

Prior to the meeting, Mizzi had published a Facebook post. "While I respect him (the PM) and the work he is doing for the country, I didn't agree that I should be made to move aside based on allegations and speculation pushed forward by adversaries of the PL," he said prior to the meeting taking place at the PL HQ.

"The Prime Minister recently said that if someone did something bad in the Montenegro project, that person needs to be cast aside. On my part, I categorically denied every allegation of personal interest in the project." Mizzi had gone on to say in the post that he will still be loyal to the PL, "and through my vote in Parliament, I will continue stressing the government's work. I will continue contributing in politics, where I will continue to be a voice for my constituents."

Video: Mike Camilleri


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