Alwaght- Bahrain’s Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who quashed repeated opposition unrest in almost half a century in office, has died at the age of 84.
The world’s longest-serving prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa died on Wednesday in Mayo Clinic hospital in the United States, Bahrain’s state news agency said.
Running Bahrain day-to-day since 1971, Sheikh Khalifa was seen for decades as the dominant personality in the government, a foe of Iran, friend of Saudi Arabia and defender of the state’s Al Khalifa dynasty.
Reviled by the mainly Shi’ite Muslim opposition as a leading barrier to reform in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, Sheikh Khalifa advocated a tough response to public protest that saw thousands of opposition activists jailed. Critics say many were tortured or mistreated in detention, a charge Bahrain strongly denies.
Prime Minister since Bahrain’s independence from Britain, Sheikh Khalifa, 84, the uncle of King Hamad, routinely dismissed the opposition’s description of him as the man most responsible for recurrent deadlock in political reform efforts.
Bahraini people have been holding peaceful protest rallies regularly, demanding that the Al Khalifa family relinquish power and let a just system representing all citizens be established.
They have also been complaining about widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority.
Manama has responded to the anti-regime demonstrations with an iron fist. The authorities have detained rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported those left stateless.