Oman sultan to empower lawmaking body after protests

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 10:17 AM
Oman sultan to empower lawmaking body after protests

MUSCAT (Reuters) - Oman's ruler plans to grant legislative powers to a partially elected council, the state news agency reported on Sunday, in an apparent shake-up aimed at preventing further protests in the Gulf Arab sultanate.

The ONA agency also reported that Sultan Qaboos bin Said had decided to double monthly welfare payments and increase pension benefits.

The normally tranquil Oman, an oil-producing nation at the mouth of the Gulf, was shaken last month by protests inspired by unrest that has rocked much of the Arab world this year.

The sultan has sacked a string of ministers in a recent cabinet reshuffle and on Sunday appeared to make his biggest concession yet by announcing that he would offer lawmaking powers to the Oman Council.

At present, only the sultan and his cabinet can legislate.

The Oman Council consists of the elected advisory Shura Council and the State Council, which is made up of members appointed by the sultan himself.

ONA said a committee would be set up to flesh out the plans, adding that it would have to report back within 30 days.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)