Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oman's ruler dismisses ministers

Oman's ruler dismisses ministers
Gulf state's sultan replaces three top government officials as protesters demand an end to corruption and better wages
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2011 07:40 GMT

Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said has replaced three top government officials, after protests erupted demanding reforms and an end to corruption in the Gulf state, state media has reported.
Demonstrators have urged the sultan to dismiss all government ministers and have them investigated for any illegal activities.
The sultan appointed Khaled bin Hilal bin Saud al-Busaidi as a minister of the royal court, replacing Sayed Ali bin Hmud al-Busaidi, the state ONA news agency said on Saturday.
He also appointed Sultan bin Mohammed al-Numani as minister in the sultan's office, replacing General Ali bin Majid al-Maamari, it added.
Nasr bin Hamoud bin Ahmed al Kindi was named as the new secretary general of royal court affairs.
Meanwhile, protests in the country have spread to a key oil region, Haima, with oil workers staging a sit-in in the area about 500km southwest of the capital Muscat.
The oil workers are calling for more government investment in the area, a government official told the Associated Press.
Demonstrations flared last week, with protesters seeking jobs and a greater political voice. One demonstrator was killed.
Sultan Qaboos has since ordered 50,000 new civil service jobs. But the measure failed to halt sit-ins in Muscat and the northern industrial city of Sohar, where the unrest began.
Rival demonstrations
Anti-government protesters continued to rally in Oman on Friday, while rival demonstrations were also held in support of Sultan Qaboos.
Oman is the latest country to be hit by the wave of popular protests that has rattled several Arab states and swept from power the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.
But the anti-government sentiment in Oman differs from the rest of the region's turmoil , as there has been much less violence and more support for the country's leader.
"We are making this to support the sultan, not to face against the sultan. We are just facing the corruption here," Yousef al-Zadjali, a protest spokesman in the city of Sohar told Al Jazeera.
Sultan Qaboos brought peace to Oman soon after taking power in a palace coup 41 years ago.
He also delivered a public health system, improved infrastructure and granted more rights for women than many other Gulf countries.

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