Additional reporting by Julian Bonnici
Robert Abela has called for national unity in his first public comment since winning the Labour leadership election by a landslide.
In a brief statement, delivered side by side with his wife Lydia Abela, the incoming Prime Minister said that tonight’s result was a victory for the Labour Party. He also had words of thanks for Chris Fearne.
Abela won 57.9% of the vote tonight, while Fearne only won 42.1%.
Joseph Muscat congratulated Abela on his victory and said he is proud to be handing the Prime Minister’s office over to him on Monday. He also thanked Abela’s leadership contender Chris Fearne for his “excellent contribution” to the party and country.
Congratulations @robertabela_mt on being elected @PL_Malta leader. Proud to be handing over to him #Malta PM office on Monday. Thank you @chrisfearne for your excellent contribution to the party and country -JM
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) January 12, 2020
Abela, a lawyer and an MP, was widely viewed as the underdog in this leadership election and several Cabinet ministers and MPs had endorsed Fearne. However, he ran an energetic campaign and will now be sworn in as Malta’s next Prime Minister.
Several PL supporters have gathered outside the party’s headquarters to congratulate Abela on his victory.