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Manuel Mallia officially dismissed, Carmelo Abela takes over, PBS now under Culture Ministry

Updated 2.15pm

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has formally dismissed Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia after he failed to submit his resignation as requested yesterday.

Carmelo Abela has taken the oath of office as Dr Mallia's successor. However there have been slight changes in the ministerial portfolio, with PBS moving from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Justice and Culture (under Owen Bonnici) and responsibility for the film industry being transferred to the Ministry of Tourism (under Edward Zammit Lewis).

Dr Mallia was asked to resign by Dr  Muscat last night after the publication of an inquiry report into the shooting incident involving his driver. A Board of Inquiry found that although Dr Mallia was not part of an attempted cover-up, it had been his duty to ensure that an official statement about the incident was accurate, or that it was immediately corrected.

Attempts to question Dr Mallia about his political future were in vain. He did not reply to phone calls and no one answered his doorbell. 

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil in a tweet immediately Dr Mallia was sacked wrote: 'Mallia gone, about time too. Muscat is three weeks late in doing the right thing. #weakPM".

Dr Mallia's dismissal means the third departure from the Muscat Cabinet in less than two years, with Godfrey Farrugia having been forced out from the Ministry of Health in a Cabinet reshuffle some months ago. Parliamentary Secretary Franco Mercieca also stepped down during that reshuffle.

Dr Mallia was elected to Parliament for the first time at the last general election in March 2013 after a brilliant career as a lawyer in the criminal court. Just last week he said in parliament that politics was not the be all and end all of his life, and he had opted for politics only to be able to bring about change and to serve. It is not known whether he will remain an MP.

Carmelo Abela has been an MP since 1996 and has served as Deputy Speaker, the Labour whip and government spokesman.

 

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