The family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have accused the Maltese Prime Minister of clinging on to power after he announced he would resign next month.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat last night confirmed he would step down after protests over his response to the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
He pledged to step down as Labour leader after the election of a new leader on January 12, which failed to appease critics who are demanding his immediate resignation.
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.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (pictured today) has been criticised by the sister of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia of clinging onto power after he pushed back his resignation until January
Galizia's sister Corinne Vellay criticised Muscat's decision to push back his resignation until next month.
'As Malta and the world faces up to the reality that the Office of the Prime Minister had a hand in our mother and wife's assassination and, for more than two years, sought to cover it up, Joseph Muscat has decided to delay his resignation as Prime Minister,' she said.
'He has done so despite the implication of Keith Schembri, his right-hand man, in the assassination of his most powerful critic.
'Muscat has delayed his resignation in an attempt to continue protecting himself and Schembri. There is no alternative explanation.
'His continued tenure as prime minister is intolerable to anyone who cares about justice. His role in the investigation into our wife and mother's assassination is unlawful. Until he resigns, we will use all legal remedies to ensure Muscat has no further involvement in the investigation and criminal proceedings, other than as a possible suspect.'
Muscat, a friend of Tony Blair's, announced he would step down 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.'
Joseph and Michelle Muscat with Tony and Cherie Blair in 2007. Prime Minister Muscat said he would step down as the Labour Party leader on January 12 and in the days after as the PM
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.
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.'
Muscat's 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.
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 corruption along with Mizzi and Cardona.
Caruana Galizia's family and thousands of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets calling for Muscat's resignation.
Last week, the Council of Europe's special rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt also called on the Labour PM to step down 'at the earliest possible opportunity'.
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
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.