Bahrain reformers

02 May 2011

Six key individuals shaping the island’s development programme: Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa; Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa al-Khalifa; Ali Salman, Hassan Mushaimi; Abdulhamid Abdulrahman Murad; Khalil Ibrahim Salman al-Marzooq

Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa

Position Crown Prince of Bahrain, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defence Force

Biography Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was sworn in as Crown Prince of Bahrain on 9 March 1999. In 2001, he was appointed chairman of the committee to implement Bahrain’s National Action Charter, the reform document that established a democratically elected lower house of parliament. Recently, Sheikh Salman led efforts to broker a deal with opposition groups after protests started on 14 February 2011. So far, attempts have failed as clashes between protesters and security forces escalated. If a deal is brokered, he is likely to be the state’s driving force behind it. The Crown Prince has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the American University in Washington DC and a master’s degree in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge.

Contact Tel: (+973) 17 388 388

Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa al-Khalifa

Position Chief executive officer (CEO) of the Economic Development Board

Biography A close ally of Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa al-Khalifa worked for the Crown Prince for 10 years before being put at the helm of the Economic Development Board in 2005. As CEO of the Economic Development Board, he has been instrumental in implementing economic reforms mapped out by the Crown Prince. He has a prominent role in the economy and political reforms as a supporter of making politics more inclusive. As a key political ally of the Crown Prince, he is seen by many opposition activists as someone they must work with to secure a reform deal. Sheikh Mohammed has a degree in Economic Theory from the American University in Washington DC and a post-graduate diploma in Business Studies from the London School of Economics.

Contact Tel: (+973) 17 589 969

Ali Salman

Position President of the Al-Wefaq Society

Biography Ali Salman is president of the Al-Wefaq society, the largest authorised opposition group in Bahrain. It held 18 seats in the 40-seat parliament before resigning them all in response to the deaths of anti-government demonstrators in mid-February. Salman is a Shia cleric educated in Iran. He was forced out of Bahrain in the late 1990s because of his role in the 1994 uprising. Salman returned in March 2001 as part of King Hamad’s general amnesty, along with a raft of political reforms and the National Action Charter. As the largest party among opposition groups, Al-Wefaq will be vital to attempts to resume a political dialogue between the state and the opposition. It is also more moderate than other opposition groups and does not call for the removal of the prime minister. Within the society, Salman is considered one of its more pragmatic voices and has consistently urged opposition groups to keep protests peaceful.

Contact Tel: (+973) 17 406 020

Hassan Mushaimi

Position Secretary General of Haq Movement

Biography Hassan Mushaimi formed the Haq Movement in 2005. Prior to that, he was one of the founding members of the Al-Wefaq Society and a leading figure in the uprising of 1994. During that time, he was arrested and later jailed from March to September in 1995, then in January 1996 until February 2001. After being jailed several more times, he eventually left Bahrain in 2010 to undergo lung cancer treatment in the UK, where he formed the Bahrain Freedom Movement. He returned to Bahrain in February 2011 as part of concessions granted by the Bahraini government to political exiles. On his return, he led calls among opposition groups for the removal of the ruling Al-Khalifa family. His push for further concessions from the state before entering into dialogue is considered key to why a reform deal failed. He is now under arrest following the recent state crackdown on protesters.

Contact PO Box 6135, London WC1N 3XX, UK, (Bahrain Freedom movement)

Abdulhamid Abdulrahman Murad

Position Assistant secretary general National Democratic Action Society (Waad)

Biography Although Waad has been suspended by the government in April 2011, and does not hold a seat in the parliament, despite contesting both the 2006 and 2010 elections, the society is considered to be a key opposition group. Abdulhamid Murad was arrested on 7 April in relation to a posting on the Waad Society website the government said defamed the armed forces and would foment sedition. His was the latest in a line of arrests of activists involved in the anti-government protests that started on 14 February. Waad is a non-sectarian organisation in Bahrain. Even though it has not won a seat in elections, it is considered to be a pragmatic reformist voice, eschewing the extremist demands of movements, such as Haq. Waad’s leaders, including Murad, are widely respected in Bahrain and continue to hold influence, meaning its inclusion in national dialogue, if resumed, will be necessary.

Contact Tel: (+973) 17 122 000

Khalil Ibrahim Salman al-Marzooq

Position Former first deputy speaker of representative council

Biography In addition to being a member of Al-Wefaq, Khalid al-Marzooq has also held several positions in the private sector, including at Bahrain Telecommunications Company. He has been a member of parliament since 2006, but resigned in early 2011 in response to the deaths of several protesters in the first round of anti-government demonstrations in mid-February. As a senior figure in Bahrain’s largest opposition group, he is likely to be a key part of any negotiations with the government on a deal to push forward Bahrain’s reform programme through a more inclusive political process. Al-Marzooq has a master’s degree from the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University in Management and Information Technology, and a degree in Computer Science from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

Contact Tel: (+973) 39 663 477

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