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Former Maltese PM brought down by journalist murder quits parliament

FILE PHOTO: Outgoing Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat delivers his final speech at the party's Congress before the election of a new party leader at the Corradino Sports Pavilion in Paola, Malta January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

ROME (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned from Malta’s parliament on Monday after a 90-second speech in which he said he was proud of his achievements.

Muscat stepped down as prime minister in January following allegations of government corruption made by activists and the political opposition who said he had protected people linked to the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat always denied wrongdoing and was never charged or convicted.

He became the leader of the Labour Party in 2008 and led it to a landslide victory in 2013, when he became prime minister.

Muscat won another landslide in 2017, riding an economic boom that saw Malta turn a budget deficit into a surplus and almost eliminate unemployment.

He was succeeded this year as party leader and prime minister by Robert Abela.

Muscat’s resignation from parliament comes weeks after his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was briefly arrested in connection with a police investigation into alleged money laundering from the sale of Maltese passports. Schembri denies wrongdoing and has not been formally charged.

Muscat also served in the European Parliament between 2004 and 2008.

Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; editing by Gavin Jones and Pravin Char