Muscat: We have been orphaned
Labour leader Joseph Muscat in his first reaction to Dom Mintoff's death said today that 'we have all been orphaned'.
Dr Muscat visited Mr Mintoff's home soon after the former prime minister died aged 96 this evening.
He said Mr Mintoff had died as he wanted to, at peace, at home, surrounded by his children.
He said he had been told by his daughters that he had died peacefully.
"Malta has lost the architect of its freedom, a giant of its political history" Dr Muscat said.
He said Mr Mintoff was the source of controversy, but many considered him as the greatest asset this country ever had. His political adversaries too recognised that Malta would be different now were it not for him.
He was the man who, against all odds, put Malta on the world map. Malta started being taken seriously by the foreigners.
Dr Muscat said he only first met Mr Mintoff 20 years ago but he was impressed by his vision and energy. For his own thesis he had spoken at length with Mr Mintoff and was impressed by his insight, his love for his country and his unprecedented love for the workers.
Mintoff had built a living monument for himself through social benefits such as pensions, children's allowance, the free medical service, free tuition, stipends, the minimum wage the right to sick leave, equal rights for women, the right to vote at 18, the separation of church and state and so much more.
Dr Muscat said there had been a difficult period between the Labour Party and Mr Mintoff in recent years, but he was pleased that over the past four years that chapter was closed.
He wished to thank Mr Mintoff for everything he had done, Dr Muscat said.