MANAMA — His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain on Saturday reshuffled his cabinet, dropping four Sunni ministers, taking in two new ministers — one Shia and one Sunni — and changing the portfolios of a few others.
In an effort to ease the current political situation, the King also announced a 25 per cent reduction in instalments of the citizens’ monthly pay for their housing services provided by the government.
The ministers dropped in the cabinet reshuffle included Minister of Health Dr Faisal Al Hamar, Minister of Housing Shaikh Ibrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Electricity and Water Fahmi Al Jowder and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Shaikh Ahmed bin Attiyatallah Al Khalifa.
The Ministry of Housing was given to current Labour Minister Dr Majeed Al Alwai, while the Ministry of Labour was given to Undersecretary of Labour Dr Jameel Humadan, a Shia. The Ministry of Health was given to current Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna. Executive Chairman of Operation at the Bahrain Development Board Kamal Ahmed, a Sunni, was given the post of Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs. The Ministry of Oil and Gas joined the Electricity and Water Authority and was named the Ministry of Energy under Minister of Oil and Gas Dr Abdulhussain bin Ali Mirza.
The reshuffle angered both communities. Head of the Sunni National Unity Gathering Dr Abdullateef Al Mahmood told a Press conference that the reshuffle was a “hidden deal” between a segment of society and the government.
He said that his party was against a shuffle that came without the consultation of all political parties.
Leading Shia group Al Wefaq National Society said the reshuffle fell short of opposition demands.
Its spokesman Khalil Marzooq told the Press that the reshuffle was limited and far from the main opposition demand that the full government be replaced by a new one, and include young blood.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, who had been living in the UK and was pardoned last week from charges of terror plotting, arrived in Bahrain on Saturday.
He was held for two days in Lebanon on an Interpol arrest warrant.
He was released after the Bahrain authorities sent to the Lebanon government a letter requesting his release.