Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat plans to make his final exit from politics after the summer holidays, delaying previous plans to resign as Labour MP as early as this month.
Muscat has told friends and close associates that he intends to give up his seat in parliament around October, Times of Malta is informed.
It is understood he had originally planned to resign by the end of this month.
But the ex-prime minister, who was forced out of office in January following the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder fallout which sparked anti-corruption protests, wants to push his departure back by a few months after his name was mentioned in court in connection with the murder case.
On Monday, his former chief of staff Keith Schembri said Muscat had directed him to speak to the alleged mastermind behind the journalist’s murder, Yorgen Fenech, in a bid to stop him from leaving the island.
A police investigator also told the court this week that Fenech knew the date of the May 2017 snap election at least six months before it took place.
Muscat is understood to want to “create some distance” between his resignation and the ongoing court case.
Attempts to contact Muscat for a comment were in vain.
He resigned as prime minister in January after mounting pressure and protests over Caruana Galizia’s assassination in a 2017 car bomb and its alleged links to his administration.
He stayed on as a Labour MP, saying he would dedicate his time to progressive social reforms.
Muscat’s successor as prime minister, Robert Abela, has made it known privately that he would like Muscat to retire sooner rather than later, in the hope of ridding the government of any suspected links to the Caruana Galizia murder.
Sources close to the Abela administration say the relatively new prime minister is keen to put the Caruana Galizia case behind him.
This week he sacked Konrad Mizzi as a Labour MP, shortly after Times of Malta and Reuters revealed how Fenech’s 17 Black made a multi-million euro profit from a wind farm project piloted by Mizzi.
Abela also forced Chris Cardona out as the party’s deputy leader, shortly after he was alleged to have paid money to Caruana Galizia’s alleged hitmen. Cardona has rejected the claims.
Muscat is the last remaining active Labour politician to have been directly tarnished by the Caruana Galizia case and its related corruption claims.
His right-hand man, Schembri, was sidelined by Abela, who also got rid of many of his allies within the Office of the Prime Minister.
However, while Abela is understood to be increasingly eager to step out from under the shadow cast by his predecessor’s administration, there are still some within Labour who remain loyal to Muscat, who twice led the party to electoral victory.
Cabinet sources, however, say that in the dying days of Muscat’s time at the helm of government, he had lost the trust and support of a good number of ministers.
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