His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman ushered in historical constitutional reforms on Sunday, granting legislative and regulatory powers to the Council of Oman.Granting more powers to the Council of Oman (also known as Majlis Oman) and choosing members of this Council as Ministers were some of the demands of the protesters.
The powers to the Council of Oman are being granted based on public interest, says a decree issued by Sultan Qaboos.
A technical committee of experts was formed to develop a draft amendment to the Basic Law of the State incorporating the powers to the Council of Oman. This report has to be submitted to Sultan Qaboos within the next 30 days.
The granting of executive powers to the Council of Oman, meanwhile, comes at a time when the Consultative/Shura Council is preparing for elections to its 7th term.
In another major move designed to appease the protesting public, Sultan Qaboos sacked Lieutenant-General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, the Inspector-General of Police and Customs and appointed Major General Hassan Mohsen bin Salem bin Shuraiqi in his place with the rank of a Minister. Al Ma’amari was held responsible for the alleged deaths of two protesters in Sohar when police opened fire to quell violent protests in February last.
In yet another public gesture, Sultan Qaboos issued an order increasing the pensions of civil servants by 50% (for those at the lowest pension levels) and hiked the grants for families covered under social security by 100%.
Under the Social Security Program, the Government of Oman pays monthly stipends to orphans, divorcees, widows, unmarried women, abandoned women, families of prisoners, and elderly people. The total yearly allocation for the 45,000-odd people who come under this scheme is over $ 100 million.