Manama: Bahrain’s Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the world’s longest-serving prime minister who had held the post since independence in 1971, died Wednesday at the age of 84, state media announced.
Prince Khalifa has been a controversial figure for a long time in office and is very popular among the Shia population under Sunni rule.
When the Shiite-led protesters occupied the Pearl Square in Manama for a month before they were driven away by security forces backed by Saudi Arabia, their main demand was to demand Khalifa’s resignation.
After laying the stage for the referendum on the Iranian King’s sovereignty over the Cove Islands, he played a key role in Bahrain’s political and economic affairs for more than three decades.
But the prime minister, who was accused by dissidents of opposing political reforms and cracking down on activists, took a lower profile after his nephew King Hamad ascended the throne in March 1999.
Prince Khalifa passed away at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in the United States, the official Bahrain News Agency said.
The funeral will be held after his body is returned to the country, and due to coronavirus restrictions, the ceremony will be limited to a “certain number” of relatives.
The country will hold a week of official mourning, during which the national flag will be hoisted at half-mast. Government ministries will be closed for three days.