Manama, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- Bahrain’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, in office since 1970, has died at the age of 84 in the United States, the country’s royal court announced Wednesday.
Al Khalifa died at the Mayo Clinic hospital in the US state of Minnesota, the court said in a statement, giving no further details on the cause of his death.
The statement added that the funeral will take place once his body arrives home and only a limited number of relatives will be allowed to attend.
King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman of Bahrain mourned the late premier and ordered a week of national mourning and flags to be flown at half-mast.
Work at government departments also will be suspended for three days starting on Thursday.
Al Khalifa, born in the coastal town of al-Jasra on 24 November, 1935, was the second of three children of Sheikh Salman bin Hamad, who ruled Bahrain from 1942 to 1961.
He assumed his post in 1970, a year before Bahrain’s independence from Britain, making him one of the world’s longest-serving premiers in the world.
After 50 years in office, Al Khalifa became one of the most controversial figures in Bahrain politics, as the outlawed opposition has accused him of ruling with an iron fist.
Al Khalifa was behind repressing the country’s 1990s uprising and was one of the most criticized personalities for silencing the 2011 wave of demonstrations.
However, his supporters attribute the modernization of Bahrain to him as a result of the increase in oil prices in 1980, which enriched the small Arab country, while his opponents accuse him of corruption and wasting public funds over the construction of megaprojects.