The jubilant crowds swarmed through the narrow streets of Valletta, the walled capital of Malta, in such numbers that the black Mercedes Benz was forced to a virtual halt. Inside the car, the driver lost his temper. "Save your applause for later!" he shouted, leaning out of the window. "There is work to do, and it will be done!"

Hot-tempered Dom Mintoff, 54, made that promise just before taking the oath as Malta's second Prime Minister since it became an independent member of the British Commonwealth in 1964. In the three weeks since then, he has shown that he meant business....

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