King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa announced on 11 November a cabinet reshuffle that saw six new ministers enter government. The appointment of the cabinet, which followed the first completion of state elections in almost 30 years in October, marks the penultimate stage in the transition to a parliamentary democracy in Bahrain.
Seventeen members of the previous government kept their seats in the cabinet, which includes four new ministerial portfolios. Long-time Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Mubarak al-Khalifa was appointed to the post of Deputy Prime Minister, a position he will share with the Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Khalifa.
Several ministries were split in the reshuffle, including the Islamic Affairs & Justice Ministry and the Commerce & Industry Ministry. However, the housing and public works ministries were merged into one department. Excluding the nine members of the ruling Khalifa family that retain their seats, the new cabinet is divided equally between Shia and Sunni ministers.
The cabinet's first task will be to sit alongside the elected Chamber of Deputies and the appointed members of the bicameral legislature in the first joint session of parliament, which is scheduled to go ahead before National Day on 16 December. The next step in the process will be the appointment of the 40-member upper house.