Update 2 | Dom Mintoff was Prime Minister of Malta three times, spanning over 16 years
MaltaToday will tomorrow issue a special edition on Dom Mintoff
A State Funeral is expected to be held for the late Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, who died this evening aged 96.
Contacted tonight, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that he was in contact with the family soon after Dom Mintoff passed away at his residence in Tarxien.
Gonzi said that Mintoff's family had accepted his government's offer for a State Funeral, details of which are to be discussed and announced tomorrow.
The Prime Minister descbried Mintoff as a "great political personality who characterised the Maltese political, Constitutional, economical and social scenario for the past 50 years."
He added that news about the former Premier's demise brought sorrow to a nation for "a person who throughout his lifetime was a detetermining factor for the political development of this country."
Gonzi said that the nation is duty bound to remember Mintoff for his achievements, and his government stands behind a nation in sorrow.
In recent times, Dom Mintoff was admitted to hospital several times.
Dom Mintoff was born in Bormla in 1916. He graduated, as an architect and civil engineer in 1939. He received a scholarship and pursued his studies at Hertford College, Oxford University from where he received a Masters in Science and Engineering in 1943.
Mintoff, a politician, journalist and architect served as leader of the Labour Party from 1949 to 1984. He was Prime Minister of Malta from 1955 to 1958 and from 1971 to 1984.
Mintoff was Labour's Secretary General between 1935 and 1945. He was first elected to public office in 1945 to the Government Council. In the same year, Mintoff was elected Deputy Leader of the Party with such a wide margin that placed him in an indisputable position as the successor, if not a challenger, to the Leader Paul Boffa.
In 1947, Mintoff was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works and Reconstruction, overseeing large post-War public projects.
Mintoff's strong position and ambition led to a split in the Labour Party. In 1949, Prime Minister Paul Boffa resigned and formed the Malta Workers Party and Mintoff refounded the Labour Party as the "Malta Labour Party" of which he assumed leadership.
The split resulted in the weakening of both parties and it was not until 1955 after remaining out of government for three consecutive legislatures, that the Labour Party was elected in office with Mintoff as Prime Minister.
In 1950's Mintoff's relations with the Catholic Church deteriorated to such an extent that it led to interdiction of the Party by the Church. The Labour Party lost the subsequent two elections in 1962 and 1966 and boycotted the Independence celebrations in 1964. The Party was returned to power in 1971 and re-elected in 1976 with a clear majority.
In 1974 Malta ditched British monarchy to become a republic - a move also supported by most Nationalist MPs. The non-partisan former British governor Sir Anthony Mamo was appointed President.
In 1979, Mintoff oversaw the closure of the British military base in Malta and declared 31 March as Freedom Day.
In 1981, Labour remained in government notwithstanding the fact that 51% of the electorate voted in favour of the PN. The victory was sanctioned due to the supremacy of seats, whichwas constitutionally legal. On 22nd December 1984, Mintoff voluntarily left office to enable his successor, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici to take over.
In 1998 Mintoff, who by then was a backbencher, denied Alfred Sant a majority in parliament on the Cottonera yacht marina motion, paving the way for Nationalist re-election and the re-activation of Malta's EU membership application, which he would later campaign against.