Sultan of Oman decided to give up some legislative powers to a council that some members are elected, the official news agency reported on Sunday (03/13/2001), in an apparent attempt to quell protests in the sultanate on the Gulf.
ONA news agency also said, Sultan Qaboos bin Said will double the monthly welfare payments and increased pension payments making it the most recent ruling in the Gulf which offer delivery to citizens after the unrest that has rocked most of the Arab world.
Oman, oil-producing countries are usually normal in the mouth of the Gulf, were surprised by the protests in two cities last month that killed one person. Sultan Qabos, who has ruled Oman for 40 years, sacked the ministers in cabinet reshuffle recently, and on Sunday seemed to make the biggest concession by announcing he would hand over power to the Board of Oman rulemaking.
Currently, only the sultan and his cabinet who can make the rules. Council of Oman, which previously only gave policy advice, consists of the Shura Council, whose members are elected, and the State Council, which consists of members appointed by the sultan.
“A technical committee of experts should be formed to develop design changes to the Law of the State,” the sultan’s decree quoted by ONA on Sunday. He added that the group will have to report back within 30 days.
Action sultan gets a mixed reaction between doubt and hope by protesters which has a few days camped outside the Shura Council to demand jobs, better living conditions and political reform.
“That does not mean much at this time. We’ll celebrate when the Shura Council were given real power in managing government,” said one protester, Hadi Suleiman.
Faiz Al-Ashour, another protester, said, “It looks good and it shows the protests coming to fruition in the direction of political reform that counts.”
The announcement was issued on the day the sultan of Oman workers at two companies launched a strike to demand wage increases, while the protests in the empire that spread to the private sector. Staff Oman International Bank (OIB) and Oman Investment and Finance Company (OIFC), a strike in the morning and launched a silent protest outside their offices.
“Our demands are very simple, we want higher pay and additional overtime,” said Mohammed al-Balushi, an employee at the OIFC. OIB is the fifth largest bank in Oman by assets, while the OIFC is a service enterprise and investment.
Bankm of Muscat, the largest financial institutions in the country, agreed to raise the salaries of employees, Sunday, after workers launched a strike the day before. Oman Air also made concessions last week to deal with strike action. Agencies