Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat has promised total loyalty and working space to his successor, adding that he will now remain simply as a sailor rather than a captain.
Dr Muscat, who spoke in three different localities, declared he had resigned as this was needed so that the new leader will start a new page within the Labour movement, which he added is based on unity rather than division, and with a clear mandate to govern for the next two and a half years.
The Prime Minister said he had always stated he would not go beyond two terms, and although in the circumstances the transition to a new leader is not as he would have wished, he does not regret the decisions he has taken in recent weeks, decisions which led to justice starting to be done.
Dr Muscat was speaking in Paola, one of three localities where he met with Labourites. The Prime Minister stated that whilst past major events of the past are still hidden away, the Labour Party has shown it is impartial when justice is involved. Dr Muscat added that his decision to step down is sending a strong political message of a new beginning, and whoever follows him will be able to build on the good which has already been done.
The Prime Minister stated that there are those who are genuinely upset at what has happened, including some who are protesting. Dr Muscat added that the Labour movement will remain based on unity, contrary to others whose uniting force, he added, is a lust for power.
Dr Muscar declared his loyalty to his successor, adding he is happy to now become a sailor instead of a captain, and he will continue to work for the movement to remain the voice of the great majority.
The Labour leader declared he is prepared to diminish himself for the country to continue moving forward. This Government, the speaker added, can feel the people’s pulse and will not allow an election for a new leader to divide it, as had happened with others. Through this process, the Labour Party will confirm its unity. Dr Muscat stated that the Government has a clear mandate and will continue leading the country for the remaining two and a half years of this legislature. The greatest mistake, he added, would be to let others write the story of the Labour Party.
Speaking near the Naxxar Labour Centre, Dr Muscat stated he is proud of this movement, which is bigger than it had been. The Prime Minister recognised that mistakes had been made, but he had shouldered what he had to shoulder, perhaps even what he should not have shouldered, although he admitted that the responsibility fell on his shoulders as leader of the Party. Dr Muscat added that he was doing all this serenely, as the movement did not start with him and even more, would not end with him. The Prime Minister added he is certain that Chris Fearne and Robert Abela will work to retain the majority of the people, adding that he saw in both the qualities which keep everyone united.
The Labour leader was also accorded a welcome in Ħaż-Żebbuġ square. In an indirect reference to public opinion polls, Dr Muscat stated that the Labour Party does not need numbers to show its strength, as it is a party which gauges the people’s feelings. Dr Muscat promised loyalty and working space to the new leader, saying he will be there to see the movement grow in strength and to see the movement being given another historic mandate.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife Michelle and by the two candidates for the party leadership, Chris Fearne and Robert Abela.