Bahrain replaces national security chief

Member of ruling family sacked following king’s promise to hold to account officials cited in crackdown report.

Bahrain king
 An inqury blames Bahraini police for using excessive force during the March uprising [Courtesy of @BinKarim3]

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has dismissed the head of the state’s security apparatus.

Tuesday’s announcement to replace Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah, a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family, as the head of the National Security Agency comes a week after an inquiry exposed widespread rights abuses during a crackdown on protests led by the kingdom’s Shia Muslim majority.

Adel bin Khalifa Hamad al-Fadhel takes over from Sheikh Khalifa, who was made secretary-general of Bahrain’s Supreme Defence Council and a national security adviser to the king.

Under pressure from its US allies, the Sunni-ruled kingdom has said it will comply with the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).

A $53m arms deal between the two countries was put on hold last month when the US congress and the state department said they wanted to consider the findings of the BICI report before proceeding with the sale.

The BICI was established by a royal decree in June, and headed by six international rights lawyers, following international criticism of Bahrain’s reaction to the protests that began last February.

This includes the imposition of martial law and calling in Saudi and UAE forces as part of the government’s crackdown on protests.

The security reshuffle follows Hamad’s statements earlier this week that he would hold to account and replace any officials involved in the abuses cited in the BICI report.

Bahrain has said that the interior ministry is currently engaged in a process of hiring US and British security experts to help Bahraini police forces in maintaining order while still respecting the rights and freedoms of the people.

The government has also announced that a code of conduct will be developed for the nation’s police forces, found by the BICI report guilty of using excessive force on protesters between February and March this year.

After announcing a national commission to “follow up and implement” the BICI report published last week, Hamad used the occasion of the security chief’s removal to name the head of the national commission entrusted with responding to the BICI report.

Ali bin Saleh al-Saleh will lead the national commission that will examine the inquiry’s recommendations.

Two members of the opposition Wefaq party, the nation’s biggest political group, were asked to take part in the commission but declined because opposition parties were not approached directly or given the chance to choose who represents them.

A government statement said it was “disappointed” at this development.

Source: News Agencies