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Middle East
Oman ruler shifts lawmaking powers
Sultan Qaboos grants legislative powers to two councils, one elected and another appointed in a bid to stem protests.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 11:32 GMT
The decision is seen as an attempt to quell protests that rocked the Gulf country [AFP]

Oman's ruler is granting lawmaking powers to officials outside the royal family in the boldest reforms yet aimed at quelling protests for jobs and a greater public role in politics.

Sunday's decree by Sultan Qaboos bin Said follows sweeping cabinet shake-ups and promises for thousands of new civil service posts since demonstrations began late last month in the tightly ruled nation.

The decree gives the abilities to make laws and regulations to two councils one elected and another appointed by the sultan. But it is not immediately clear if the sultan would retain veto power.

Oman's protests are limited compared with the unrest Bahrain, but both nations are promised $10 billion each in aid from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Cabinet reshuffle

Sultan Qaboos had last week ordered a major cabinet reshuffle after weeks of anti-government protests in the strategic Gulf state.

The directive follows a mini-cabinet reshuffle that resulted in three senior government officials being replaced while protesters pressed demands for more reforms and an end to corruption.

"The sultan of Oman has ordered a reshuffle of the council of ministers," a television announcer said, before reading the names of members of the reshaped cabinet.

One protester was killed in clashes between police and demonstrators in the northern industrial city of Sohar last week, but Oman has been spared the turmoil that has gripped regional states like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

A peaceful sit-in at a roundabout in Sohar entered its ninth day on Monday, with activists demanding the sacking of more ministers for alleged corruption.

Another crowd has maintained an anti-corruption sit-in outside the consultative council in Muscat, the capital, which is the sultanate's equivalent of parliament but without legislative authority.

Oman is the co-guardian with Iran of the strategic Strait of Hormuz entrance to the oil-rich Gulf.

It has been ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said since he overthrew his father, Sultan Said bin Taymur, in a bloodless coup in 1970.

Source:
Agencies
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