Sheikh Khalifa, deposed former ruler of Qatar, dead at 84

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Former Qatar leader Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, who ruled the wealthy Persian Gulf Arab state for more than two decades until he was deposed by his son in a bloodless palace coup in 1995, has died. He was 84 years old.

The royal court Amiri Diwan said in a brief statement that Sheikh Khalifa passed away on Sunday evening. The announcement did not say where the former emir died and provided no information about the possible cause of his death.

“May Allah have mercy on his soul and make his residence paradise, and grant him the best reward for what he achieved to his homeland and nation,” the statement said. It added that Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has declared three days of public mourning.

Sheikh Khalifa served as minister of education and finance before he became deputy ruler and heir apparent in 1960. He went on to serve as prime minister until he deposed his cousin, Emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani, in February 1972, just five months after the state declared its independence from Britain.

Sheikh Khalifa seized power amid disapproval of Emir Ahmad, who was criticized for spending too much time on holidays abroad. Most notably, Emir Ahmad was abroad when Qatar declared its independence, leaving Khalifa to do the declaration. When Khalifa seized power months later, Ahmad was on a hunting trip to Iran.

Khalifa held on to power for more than 20 years until he himself was removed from power by his son Hamad while on a trip to Geneva, Switzerland. The coup in 1995 followed a power struggle within the palace as Khalifa tried to regain powers that he had passed on to his son.

Sheikh Khalifa vowed to return to Qatar to retake power, but Hamad had already sealed the support of the ruling family and quickly won recognition from key allies. Khalifa stayed in Europe, living mainly in France, until he returned to Qatar in 2004, initially to attend his wife’s funeral.

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