March 13, 2011
Oman's Sultan Granting Lawmaking Powers to Councils
VOA NewsPhoto: APOman leader Sultan Qaboos in Muscat (File Photo)
In a response to political unrest, the sultan of Oman is granting lawmaking powers to councils that previously had only an advisory role.
His move follows demonstrations by people seeking jobs and a greater public role in politics.
The sultan's decree on Sunday gives the authority to make laws and regulations to two councils - one elected (the Majlis Ash-Shura) and one appointed by the monarch (the Council of State). It was not immediately clear if the sultan will retain veto power.
At present, only the Omani ruler and his Cabinet can legislate.
Within 30 days, a special commission is to draw up ways to amend state laws to carry out the sultan's plan.
The Omani ruler also announced a boost in state pension benefits and payments for families receiving social security.
Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id earlier responded to protests that began last month by shaking up his Cabinet and promising thousands of new civil service jobs.
Oman's protests have been limited compared with the political unrest in regional neighbors Yemen and Bahrain.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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Western media report that protesters held Friday prayers in a square near government headquarters, then staged march along main streets