Bahrain’s prime minister, world’s longest, Prince Khalifa, dies at 84

Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa died at the age of 84

Bahrain’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa died Wednesday at age 84. He passed away on Wednesday morning at Mayo clinic hospital in the United States. Sheikh Khalifa was one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers and was a dominant figure in the Gulf island’s politics. He had served as prime minister since the Sunni Muslim-led island kingdom declared independence from Britain in 1971, almost half a century. The al-Khalifa family has ruled since 1783. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa named crown prince Salman al-Khalifa as the new prime minister, the state news agency reported, citing a royal decree. The burial ceremony will take place upon the repatriation of his body and the funeral will be limited to a specific number of relatives.

Sheikh Khalifa was born on November 24,1935. He was a Bahraini royal and politician who has served as the Prime minister of Bahrain since 1970, taking office over a year before Bahrain’s independence on 15 August 1971. Under the 2002 constitution, he lost some of his powers, with the King having the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers. He is credited with helping to usher in a modern economy, but he was accused by activists of brutally quashing the country’s Arab Spring protests in 2011. His stern response to pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011 — and criticism of similar unrest across the Arab world — underlined what for many was the defining characteristic of his career, namely a stalwart defence of dynastic rule. Sheikh Khalifa’s power and wealth could be seen everywhere in Bahrain. His official portrait hung for decades on walls alongside the country’s ruler. He had his own private island where he met foreign dignitaries, complete with a marina and a park that had peacocks and gazelle roam its grounds.