Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condoled the death of Bahrain’s prince and the kingdom’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

“My heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain. In this moment of grief, our thoughts and prayers are with HM the King of Bahrain, the royal family and the people of Bahrain,” PM Modi said in a tweet.

The prince of Bahrain, 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 ouster over corruption allegations, died on Wednesday. He was 84. 

Sheikh Khalifa, a dominant figure in the Gulf Arab island`s politics, passed away on Wednesday morning at Mayo Clinic hospital in the United States, Bahrain`s state news agency said. Khalifa, the uncle of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, had served as prime minister since the Sunni Muslim-led island kingdom declared independence from Britain in 1971. The al-Khalifa family has ruled since 1783.

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.

“The death of the world`s longest serving prime Minister will be welcomed by many of Bahrain`s political opposition, as he is regarded as one of the chief architects of an increasingly repressive state,” said Marc Owen Jones, Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a prominent Bahraini rights campaigner exiled in Britain, said Sheikh Khalifa had masterminded “brutal repression” of the opposition during the 1990s and oversaw the crackdown on the 2011 uprising. Human rights groups have criticised Bahrain`s Western allies, notably the United States and Britain, for often remaining silent about allegations of human rights abuses against the Shi`ite majority.

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In August, Sheikh Kahlifa 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.

The burial ceremony will take place upon the repatriation of his body and the funeral will be limited to a specific number of relatives, Bahrain`s state news agency said. Official mourning has been declared for a week and government ministries and departments will close for three days starting Thursday.





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