Updated to include statement by Repubblika.
After civil society organisations announced a protest late last night in reaction to news of Konrad Mizzi being given an €80,000 job, and then nominated to head Malta’s delegation to the OSCE assembly, Prime Minister Robert Abela seems to have changed his mind.
A few hours after NGO Repubblika announced a protest in Valletta on Wednesday, Lovin Malta, which broke the news of his nomination only a few hours earlier, quoted the prime minister’s office announcing the decision withdrawn. Mizzi will not lead Malta’s delegation to the OSCE assembly because the government is now “giving absolute priority to good governance”.
The government also said it would be “seeking legal advice” on the validity of the €80,000 consultancy contract with the Malta Tourism Authority given to Mizzi only two weeks after he resigned from his role as Tourism Minister, according to a contract published by The Times of Malta.
In a statement this morning, Repubblika said the protest in Valletta on Wednesday would still go ahead. “Malta does not deserve fake good governance,” the organisation said. “Our protest will continue until people like Mizzi (and Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri and others) continue to evade justice”.
The news of his nomination and consultancy contrast sparked immediate anger on Monday. Repubblika said this topped decisions by Robert Abela over the last two weeks that create doubts on the prime minister’s talk of good governance.
Mizzi was the Minister who negotiated and signed the controversial Electrogas energy deal, linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia through revelations on Yorgen Fenech, former Head of Tumas Group and director of Electrogas and the main suspect in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
“Honeymoon over, Robert Abela. You may be ok with covering for Konrad Mizzi and the rest of Joseph Muscat’s gang. But we’re not going to cover up with you. We’re coming to parliament on Wednesday 29 January, 6pm, and we’re going to tell you exactly what we think,” Repubblika said on Facebook.
Many others reacted on social media, saying Abela’s decision to nominate Mizzi after revelations linked the journalist’s death to the energy deal Mizzi had fronted, was “insulting”.
The Opposition said the appointment was in line with “Joseph Muscat’s way of doing politics: promoting disgraced politicians at the expense of Malta’s reputation.” It also called for the consultancy contract given to Mizzi to be terminated by Tuesday morning.
The OSCE, an intergovernmental organisation with a mandate that includes issues such as press freedom and human rights, has voiced its concern on these issues in Malta. Its Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, had travelled to Malta to attend the funeral of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. And he was in Malta last October to mark the second anniversary of her assassination: “To pay tribute to her memory and her legacy”.
In an interview with The Shift in the lead up to his second visit, he said: “There can be no mercy for those responsible for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia… The safety of journalists everywhere in Europe and in the OSCE region is at stake each time an attack against a journalist remains unpunished.”