Prime Minister Robert Abela has proposed that Robert Arrigo be honoured posthumously on Republic Day in December.

"I know he was not fond of titles because we would frequently speak about this, but I will propose that he is decorated on Republic Day," Abela told reporters on Tuesday, shortly after Arrigo's death was announced.

"He was a great contributor to sports, tourism and of course, to politics, in which he was able to communicate effectively and remain close to the people."

Despite being political rivals, Abela described Arrigo as a long-time friend and extended his condolences to his family.

Robert Abela says he and his political rival Robert Arrigo were longtime friends. Video: Jonathan Borg

However, during the same round of questions, Abela continued to dismiss the idea of a monument for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"Our respect for the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia is the respect we show her family every day. That is how we want to keep remembering her," he told a Malta Today reporter when pressed on whether the government will erect a permanent monument in honour of the journalist.

Arrigo, who was a PN MP and former deputy leader of the party, died at the age of 67 on Tuesday, after he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer and had been undergoing chemotherapy.

He had been planning a fund-raising event for December in aid of Puttinu Cares, describing that month as being "special" for him as he would celebrate his birthday and more than half a century working in tourism.

Every year on Republic Day, the President honours a select number of individuals or organisations with titles and awards to recognise their work for the country. The awards are commonly known as Ġieħ ir-Repubblika (The Republic's Tribute).

Some of the awardees are appointed to the National Order of Merit while others are given the Medal for Service to the Republic (Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubbblika) or the Medal for Courage (Midalja għall-Qlubija).

Tributes poured in on Tuesday from friends, colleagues and acquaintances of Arrigo, to express their grief after his death.

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