Robert Abela: takes over from Muscat on Monday

After being elected leader of the ruling Labour Party early on Sunday, Robert Abela will be Malta’s next prime minister.

He is replacing Joseph Muscat, who was forced to resign after the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia implicated his top aide.

A lawyer by profession, Abela won 57.9 per cent of the vote, soundly beating his more favoured rival, deputy prime minister Chris Fearne.

Muscat congratulated Abela for the victory and said that he would be handing him the prime ministerial office “on Monday.”

In brief comments following his victory, Abela said that he was “humbled” and looked forward to working with his rival Fearne.

READ ALSO  Malta gets new prime minister as Muscat quits

Abela will give his first official speech as Labour leader at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon, at the closing event of a Labour Party congress.

More than 92 per cent of the 17,500 eligible Labour Party members cast their vote in polling stations set up inside party clubs across the country.

Abela has politics in his family: his father George was a prominent Labour politician who ran for party leader in 2008 but lost to Muscat and who went on to serve as president of Malta.

The younger Abela was however the clear underdog in this leadership race, having only entered parliament for the first time in 2017 and having never served in a cabinet post.

READ ALSO  Pope to give ‘strictly private’ audience to embattled Maltese premier

Fearne, by contrast, is Malta’s health minister and Muscat’s deputy prime minister and was endorsed by the vast majority of Muscat’s cabinet ministers, reported dpa/NAN.