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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 19:23 GMT
Shias claim places in Bahrain cabinet
Bahrain's Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa
Sheikh Hamad has changed the cabinet line up
Bahrain has named a new and expanded cabinet, with six new ministers, including a former opposition figure.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has appointed Majid al-Alawi, a member of Bahrain's Shia majority, to the post of Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

Key figures
King: Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa
PM: Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa
Minister for Social Affairs: Majid al-Alawi
Deputy PMs: Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak and Abdullah bin Khalid al-Khalifa
Mr al-Alawi, who was formerly living in exile in London, will replace Abdulnabi al-Shoala, who was appointed in the junior ministerial position.

The reshuffle follows Bahrain's landmark legislative elections last month.

Majid al-Alawi was an opposition activist in London until he returned home after the king, in 1999, declared an amnesty for opposition figures.

Shia boycott

The king's uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, was reappointed as prime minister and the ministers for oil, defence, the interior, foreign affairs, finance and information have all remained unchanged.

Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa has held the position of prime minister since Bahrain's independence from Britain in 1971.

For the first time, two deputy prime ministers were appointed, including foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak.

Abdullah bin Khalid al-Khalifa given the other deputy prime minister post and will remain the Islamic affairs minister.

Women voting in Bahrain's election
The reshuffle follows last month's elections
The reshuffle also sees Jawad al-Arrayed, a former municipality minister, as the first Shia Muslim with the portfolio for justice.

Shias began a campaign for political reform in 1994 that led to disturbances and a government crackdown.

Some Shia political leaders called for a boycott of parliamentary elections, because the parliament's second chamber, appointed by the king, will have as much power as the elected assembly.

The cabinet is the second since Sheikh Hamad took office after the death of his father in March 1999.

See also:

06 Aug 02 | Country profiles
01 Nov 02 | Middle East
25 Oct 02 | Middle East
23 Oct 02 | Middle East
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10 May 02 | Middle East
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