Political newcomer to become Malta's prime minister

Robert Abela exits the Labour Party headquarters to a wave of supporters

Robert Abela exits the Labour Party headquarters to a wave of supporters

Robert Abela won a Labour Party leadership contest in Malta early on Sunday, meaning he will be the European Union country's next prime minister.

Abela was seen as an outsider in the race to succeed Joseph Muscat, who announced his resignation in December, but defeated his rival Chris Fearne to take control of the country's governing Labour Party.

But his premiership was also dogged by allegations of corruption, with Caruana Galizia repeatedly denouncing alleged wrongdoing in the worlds of both politics and business before she was killed in a vehicle bomb.

Muscat announced his resignation on December 1 after his chief of staff Keith Schembri was arrested and questioned in connection with the murder. She was killed by a auto bomb on October 16, 2017 in an attack that made world headlines. He is also the son of former President George Abela. "There is only one victor today, the Labour Party".

Fearne, who has the support of most cabinet members, is a favorite to win, but Abela had closed the gap in the polls in the last week of the campaign, the Times of Malta said. Both have insisted they represent continuity.

Before being chosen as Labour leader, Abela said he would work to restore Malta's reputation for rule of law.

Caruana Galizia, known as the "one woman WikiLeaks", exposed corruption at the highest levels of government and business circles in Malta.

The probe into Caruana Galizia's death led to a political crisis in Malta. "We need change." Martina Darmanin, a 24-year old academic, said the reporter's killing had been "a shock", and she had taken part in the regular demonstrations denouncing "the mafia in power".

"I have paid the highest price to resolve this matter under my supervision", he said. The opposition Nationalist Party slammed Muscat's "surreal" speech, pointing out that it was Caruana Galiza who had paid that price.

The murder and probe, Malta Today wrote on Saturday, "cast an indelible stain on Muscat and his administration".

"Muscat's landslide, back-to-back, electoral triumphs in the midst of great economic success contrasted heavily with a prime minister who at the end of 2019 was met with a barrage of eggs, vegetables, and sonorous boos every time he exited parliament", it said.

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