A royal order carried by the official BNA news agency on Wednesday said Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had named the crown prince, his eldest son, as the kingdom’s new premier after his uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who died a day earlier at a hospital in the US.
The BNA said the new appointment takes effect immediately.
Bahrain declared a week of official mourning for the 84-year-old prime minister, who held the post since 1970, making him the world’s longest-serving head of government at the time of his death.
Bahrain’s new premier, 51, has studied in the United States and Britain, including a master’s degree from Cambridge University. He has also served as first vice prime minister and deputy supreme commander of the Bahraini military.
His predecessor’s tenure saw a heavy-handed crackdown on dissent in Bahrain.
Commenting on the premier’s death in a statement, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, an opposition human rights monitor, said Prince Khalifa had “left behind a legacy of abuse and power.”
Since 2011, 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.
Bahraini protesters 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.