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Prime Minister and Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa dies at 84


16th November 2020

Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Source: CNN)

Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers and the one person to serve as Bahrain’s premier since the founding of the tiny islands state died at the age of 84 on Wednesday at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in the U.S. The cause was unclear but he had previously suffered two heart attacks and was making frequent trips to Germany for medical treatment.

Prince Khalifa is the son of Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who ruled the island nation for nearly two decades while it was a British protectorate. Khalifa took charge one day after Bahrain declared independence from Britain in August 1971. According to the economic times, Prince Khalifa's power and wealth could be seen everywhere in this small nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. 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.

The prince was believed to be in support of the Sunni Al-Khalifa Family following an older style of gulf leadership. Prince Khalifa also survived the 2011 Arab Spring protests that demanded his ouster over corruption allegations. A senior resident scholar at Washington based Arab Gulf States Institute states that “Khalifa bin Salman represented the old guard in more ways than just age and seniority. He represented an old social understanding rooted in royal privilege and expressed through personal patronage."

The burial ceremony will take place after his remains are transported home and in line with coronavirus restrictions, the ceremony will be limited to a “specific number” of relatives according to the NDTV. The country is to hold a week of official mourning for the late prime minister during which flags will be flown at half-mast. Government ministries and departments are to be closed for days. Late on Wednesday, Bahrain’s state-run news agency initially announced Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa would lead the Council of Ministers, typically the job of the island’s prime minister.

(Sources: Washington Post, The Times of India, CNN, NDTV)

Edited by: Tanya Jain, Anjali Dinesh

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