Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat calls snap general election
Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called a snap general election for June 03,2017 a year before his term ends.
The opposition has been calling for his resignation over allegations that his wife owned an offshore company in Panama.
Joseph Muscat and his wife, Michelle, deny the claims. A magisterial inquiry is under way.
He said "truth is on my side" but that he wanted to protect Malta from uncertainty.
The current scandal erupted earlier this month when the blogger Daphne Caruna Galizia made the claims, which she based on documents from the so-called Panama Papers, a leak of millions of files from the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.
"Everybody knows about the attacks made in the past few days on me and my family. I have nothing to fear because truth is on my side and I am clean," Mr Muscat said on Monday.
"My duty, however, is not just to protect myself but also to safeguard my country... We cannot allow uncertainty to slow the rhythm of Malta's economic miracle," he said.
Located south of the Italian island of Sicily between Europe and North Africa, it has been occupied by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and latterly France and Britain.
It has a history of colonial control spanning centuries.
Independence from Britain was achieved in 1964, after the Maltese people were awarded the George Cross for defending the island during the Second World War.
Over the centuries, Malta's strategic position fostered its development as an important trading post and it remains a leading centre for container and freight transhipment.
Malta is a popular holiday destination and tourism is the nation's main source of income.