Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tonight confirmed he would resign after protests over his response to the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
His government has been rocked by an ongoing probe into the death of Caruana Galizia, described as a 'one-woman WikiLeaks,' who was killed in a car bomb in October 2017.
Muscat's announcement comes despite his Labour MPs giving him their unanimous backing at an emergency meeting earlier on Sunday.
In a televised message on Sunday night, Muscat said he would quit as leader of the governing Labour Party on January 12 and that 'in the days after I will resign as prime minister.'
Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (pictured at a press conference on Friday) will step down on January 18, party sources say
Parents of the murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia Rose, left, and Michael Vella, right, attend a protest outside the office of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Yorgen Fenech (pictured yesterday), a Maltese hotelier and director of the Maltese power company, was charged in the evening courtroom hearing with being an accomplice to causing the explosion that killed the 53-year-old reporter as she drove near her home
Critics including members of Caruana Galizia's family have accused Muscat, 45, of protecting those involved in murdering the popular journalist and blogger who exposed cronyism and sleaze within the tiny country's political and business elite.
Car Bomb - October 16, 2017
On October 16, 2017 Daphne Caruana Galizia is killed in a car bomb targeting her vehicle not far from her home in the north of the island.
Aged 53, she was known for investigating high-level corruption, including contributing to the 2016 Panama Papers data leak.
Her killing triggers an outpouring of grief on the island, one of her sons accusing Muscat of being complicity and turning Malta into a 'mafia island'.
On December 4, 2017, authorities arrest eight people in connection with the murder.
Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (pictured in 2011) was killed by a car bomb in October 2017
Charges - July 16, 2019
On July 16, 2019, three suspects are formally charged in connection with the assassination: brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, as well as Vince Muscat, all in their fifties.
The mastermind has not yet been identified.
On September 20, the government announces a public inquiry into the killing, just ahead of the expiry of a three-month deadline by the Council of Europe to set up such an investigation.
Legal Immunity - November 20, 2019
On November 20, Maltese police arrest tycoon Yorgen Fenech in connection with the murder as he is sailing away from Malta on his yacht.
Fenech owns a Dubai company called 17 Black that Caruana Galizia had reported had connections with the government.
The arrest comes a day after the prime minister promises to pardon an alleged middleman if he names the person who ordered the assassination.
On the 23, Fenech demands legal immunity before revealing what he knows about the case. He is released on bail three days later.
Ministers quit - November 26, 2019
On November 26 Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and his tourism minister, Konrad Mizzi, resign. They had been accused by Caruana Galizia of being involved in corruption, which they denied.
Economy minister Chris Cardona says he is 'suspending himself'.
Schembri is arrested but released two days later without charge, sparking accusations of a cover-up. Some sources claim Schembri was the mastermind of Caruana Galizia's killing.
Prime Minister to step down - November 30, 2019
On November 30, party sources say Muscat will step down on January 18 once those behind the murder of Caruana Galizia have been charged
'He always said that he will be leaving soon and he feels that now is the time to go,' said one party source.
Earlier Sunday a party insider said after a four-hour crisis meeting: 'The entire group was supportive of Joseph Muscat, and we told him that it's for him to choose when to step down.'
Meeting at Muscat's summer home, the MPs also agreed to reinstate Chris Cardona as economy minister and deputy leader.
Cardona had announced last week that he was 'suspending himself' as the investigation into the killing of Caruana Galizia in a car bomb attack implicated top government officials.
Last week, the scandal claimed the scalps of Muscat's top aide Keith Schembri and the former tourism minister, Konrad Mizzi.
Police sources said Fenech had identified Schembri as the 'real mastermind' behind the killing.
Caruana Galizia had accused Schembri of