Bahrain’s long-serving Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has died, the state media reported. He was 84.
“The Royal Court mourns His Royal Highness … who passed away this morning at Mayo Clinic Hospital in the United States of America,” the Bahrain News Agency said on Wednesday, without elaborating.
The Gulf state’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa announced official mourning for a week during which flags will be flown at half-mast, the agency said.
The burial ceremony will take place upon the repatriation of his body and the funeral will be limited to a specific number of relatives, it said.
Sheikh Khalifa was one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers who led his island nation’s government for decades and survived the 2011 Arab Spring protests that demanded his removal over corruption allegations.
His stern response to the pro-democracy protests 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. The Al Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since 1783.
In August, Sheikh Khalifa left the kingdom for what official media called at the time “a private visit abroad”. Earlier this year, he spent time in Germany for unspecified medical treatment, returning to Bahrain in March.
Bahrain, a staunch ally of neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the United States, is also the home base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Source: Al Jazeera English
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