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Oman Reshuffles Cabinet to Halt Protests

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TEHRAN, Feb 27 (ICANA) – Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos has changed six ministers in his cabinet and raised stipends for university students in an attempt to prevent further protests in the tiny Persian Gulf country.
Sunday, February 27, 2011 2:21:54 PM
Oman Reshuffles Cabinet to Halt Protests

One week after a rare protest calling for political reforms in the Arab kingdom, Sultan Qaboos bin Said reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday in "the public interest," the state news agency ONA reported. The raft of minor reforms came amid a wave of pro-democracy protests in the region, as hundreds of protesters held a rally in Oman's largest industrial city Sohar, demanding democracy and better living condition. Blocking cars and shoppers at a mall in the city, protesters shouted: "We want long-term corrupt ministers to go!" "We want the Shura Council to have legislative powers!" "We want jobs!" and "We want democracy!" The 84-member Shura Council is only advisory and has no legislative powers. Activities of the parties are also banned in the kingdom. Oman's ruler also increased stipends for university students by between $65 and $234 a month in a bid to "achieve further development and provide a decent living." On February 18, hundreds of Omanis held a protest in the Omani capital, Muscat, to demand an increase in salaries and political reforms. The Arab regimes in the region have stepped up measures to appease their populations following popular unrest that toppled the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt. There is no official unemployment rate in Oman, but a CIA estimate from 2004 put the rate then at about 15 percent.

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