Chris Cardona will be tendering his resignation as Labour Party deputy leader “in the coming hours”, Prime Minister and Labour leader Robert Abela has said.
Abela said he had spoken to Cardona and asked him to step aside.
The prime minister was speaking to Malta Today outside his office at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta on Tuesday.
Cardona declined to comment when contacted.
His resignation would trigger an internal PL process to elect a new deputy leader for party affairs.
Speaking shortly after news broke of Abela's decision to force Cardona out, Finance Minister and Labour MP Edward Scicluna ruled himself out of the race for the post.
Cardona was elected PL deputy leader for party affairs in 2016, beating Owen Bonnici and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi. At the time, he served as Economy Minister within Joseph Muscat’s government.
He lost his cabinet spot once Abela took over as prime minister in January and quit parliament a few months later, shifting into the political background as he was implicated in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case.
Murder middleman Melvin Theuma mentioned Cardona in court testimony, saying that he had heard that the former minister had paid to have Caruana Galizia killed.
Cardona has flatly denied the allegations.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia reacted to Abela's announcement by saying it was long overdue.
"Now Cardona must be investigated," he said.
Abela regrets decision to make Cutajar a consultant
Abela also admitted that former police chief Lawrence Cutajar should not have been given a ministry consultancy back in January.
"That decision was taken on the basis of facts as we knew them that day," Abela said.
"With the benefit of hindsight, the decision to give him a consultancy would certainly not have been taken".
Cutajar had his €30,000-a-year Home Affairs consultancy job terminated on Monday evening, hours after a magistrate ordered that he be formally investigated in relation to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case.
He had been given the consultancy contract on the very same day that he resigned as police commissioner.
In an interview with Times of Malta, Cutajar confirmed that he had met a close associate of murder middleman Melvin Theuma and asked about recordings Theuma had made. The meeting happened without the knowledge of inspectors investigating the murder and sparked concerns that Cutajar may have tipped Theuma off.
Abela said that one of his first acts as prime minister was to replace Cutajar as police commissioner. But Cutajar disputes that version of events and says it was he who chose to resign, having grown tired of being the butt of criticism.