Access to Valletta’s Freedom Square has been restricted as a activists begin to gather in front of parliament for a protest on Monday evening. 

Authorities laid out a a maze of steel barricades in the square in front of parliament on Monday afternoon, considerably limiting the area which civil society activists are able to fill to demand Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s resignation. 

Access to the popular square at the entrance to the capital has also been limited, with police and steel barricades placed on Republic Street and Ordnance Street. 

Police have also asked some shop owners in the area to close their business early, a spokesperson for retailers' union GRTU told Times of Malta. 

A crowd forms in front of barricades at Freedom Square in Valletta. Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Activists began to gather parliament at 4pm. The crowd brought pots and pans and bells to ring, shouting 'mafia' and other anti-government protesters.

MPs entering parliament were booed. 

Labour supporters have also planned an unofficial gathering outside their party headquarters, although a PL spokesman distanced the party from any such events.

Protesters have been meeting for almost every day of the past 12 days, insisting Dr Muscat must go due to his proximity to people investigated as part of the Caruana Galizia murder case. 

The prime suspect in the case, businessman Yorgen Fenech, claims Dr Muscat’s former right-hand man Keith Schembri was the murder mastermind. Mr Schembri was arrested and then released without charges last week. 

Access to Freedom Square from Republic Street has also been restricted. Photo: Chris Sant FournierAccess to Freedom Square from Republic Street has also been restricted. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Dr Muscat said on Sunday that he would make way for a new Labour leader and prime minister in January, in a televised address in which he also suggested protesters were violent. 

“Violence and disorder, within the pretext of a protest, are not justified in a democracy,” he said. 

Protesters threw eggs and coins at MPs as they exited parliament on Tuesday last week but demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful. 

Police, barricades and a mound of uncollected rubbish along Ordnance Street. Photo: Chris Sant FournierPolice, barricades and a mound of uncollected rubbish along Ordnance Street. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier