Labour leader Joseph Muscat said today that a new Malta had been born following the outcome of the divorce referendum.

He said at a press conference that he was proud to have spoken in favour of divorce and had not hidden in order to do what was politically convenient.

He had been ready to be the last man standing, but he was not the last man.

However, there were no winners or losers but a nation which respected civil liberties and tolerance, Dr Muscat said.

The will of the majority now had to be respected, without ignoring the minority, he said. And all must work for stronger families.

Dr Muscat said he wished to thank all those who had participated in the divorce debate, including the activists of the Labour Party in both camps.

He said the PL was proud of the respect shown to the views of all sides.

He particularly thanked Deborah Schembri, head of the Divorce Movement, saying she symbolised the will of the Maltese people in the past weeks.

Dr Muscat said the people had shown that past was the time when the political parties could expect to tell the people what they wanted.

Malta now had a new generation of voters who acted independently of the political parties.

It was the political parties which had to adapt themselves to the new realities.

Now that the people had expressed themselves, the prime minister and parliament had to realise the will of the people.

The arguments that had been made should be analysed.

He said the Labour Party remained the natural home of everyone. It listened to everyone without dictating. It was the natural home of both those who voted yes and no. It was the home of the liberal minded people.

Now was the time for a healing process for the country and he was confident Malta could benefit through dialogue, mutual respect and tolerance.

He was confident that the people would remain united. Malta had shown it was changing, Dr Muscat said.

Asked if Labour MPs would have a free vote in Parliament, Dr Muscat said the will of the people would be respected and he hoped the divorce debate in Parliament would start as soon as possible. He was confident. he said, that Labour MPs who disagreed with divorce would not obstruct the will of the people.

Asked if the Divorce Bill would be amended, Dr Muscat said the wording could be improved in the context of arguments made in the campaign, but the four points made in the referendum question had to be observed.

He hoped that the two movements would be able to contribute as the issue was debated in Parliament.

Dr Muscat said the divorce issue went beyond whether the voters were Labourites or Nationalists and it would be cheap and a disservice to try and score political points from the referendum result.

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