Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced a U-turn over plans to appoint Labour MP and former minister Konrad Mizzi as the head of the Maltese delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Meanwhile, the government will be seeking legal advice into the validity of an €80,000 consultancy contract granted to Mizzi by the Malta Tourism Authority in December 2019, two weeks after his resignation as Tourism Minister and just over a month before Abela’s election as Prime Minister.
“The motion for the appointment of Dr Konrad Mizzi as the head of the Maltese delegation to the OSCE has been rescinded,” a government spokesperson said. “The government is also seeking legal advice about the validity of the consultancy contract he was given by the MTA in December 2019.”
“Prime Minister Robert Abela will continue showing that this government is giving absolute priority to good governance so our country can be in a position to implement its work overseas as effectively as possible.”
The announcement of Mizzi’s two new jobs proved controversial, with civil society groups announcing a protest for Wednesday evening outside Parliament and Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, calling for a national tax strike.
PN deputy leader David Agius confirmed the Opposition was opposing Mizzi’s appointment to the OSCE and requested a parliamentary vote over it.
Mizzi resigned as Tourism Minister last November shortly after Yorgen Fenech was arrested as a main suspect in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Although Mizzi wasn’t implicated in the murder, he was named in the Panama Papers as owning one of two companies that were supposed to earn large sums of money from 17 Black, a Dubai company owned by Fenech, and Macbridge, another alleged Dubai company whose owner remains unknown.
The owner of the second Panama company is Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who Fenech has implicated in the murder of Caruana Galizia.
After Muscat resigned, both Abela and fellow leadership contender Chris Fearne pledged not re-appoint Mizzi as a minister and indeed Abela left him out of his Cabinet.