Owen Bonnici will not be re-appointed Justice Minister by prime minister Robert Abela and will instead be given a different ministerial portfolio, sources told Times of Malta on Tuesday.

It is not clear whether Dr Bonnici, who also served as Culture Minister in the previous Cabinet, will retain that portfolio or will instead be given an altogether different brief.

Dr Bonnici has fulfilled the Justice portfolio for the past seven years, having first served as a junior minister with that brief under the oversight of Manuel Mallia before being promoted to a fully-fledged minister in 2014.

He was confirmed in that post following Labour’s re-election in 2017, with Culture also being included as part of his portfolio. 

The 39-year-old lawyer declined to comment about his future role when contacted by Times of Malta.

He however told the press as he exited the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday that his meeting with the prime minister had been "very positive".

It was down to Dr Abela to announce his ministerial appointments when he saw fit, he added. 

Dr Abela has been meeting with Labour Party MPs throughout the day, as he works to select his new Cabinet of ministers.

In a busy first day in office, the prime minister has secured Chris Fearne as health minister and deputy prime minister and moved Chris Cardona on from the Economy Ministry. 

Dr Cardona is not expected to serve as a minister, having turned down the offer of an alternative portfolio.