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Oman protesters urged to avoid acts of violence

(with inputs from Reuters) / 17 March 2011

MUSCAT — The Council of Ministers and the chief of Oman’s trade union federation called upon the people to protest peacefully and not to indulge in violent activities.

While the council of ministers warned the people against unlawful protests, the chairman of the General Federation of Oman Trade Unions (GFOTU) said that protestors should stop behaving in an ‘uncivilised manner’ like indulging in vandalism, arson and destroying property.

The anti-government protests, which began in February across the country, had turned violent in some places like Sohar, Ibri and Dhank where government and private properties were damaged and arson took place.

The Council of Ministers’ statement said that the pioneering steps taken by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to improve the standard of living of all citizens and provide jobs in many sectors, should be received in proper spirit by the people.

The Council of Ministers, while warning that no one is above the law, stated that since the authorities are considering the demands of all the protestors, they should not act in a manner, which is against the laws and legislations of the country. Such acts are also not in harmony with the culture, progress and values of the Sultanate.

Meanwhile,  Private security guards in Oman blocked the main airport in the Gulf Arab state on Wednesday in a demonstration to demand higher pay, witnesses said.

A string of concessions by veteran ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said have failed to halt a wave of unrest as protesters, inspired by demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world, press political and labour demands. Between 400 and 500 security guards, who are employed by private companies, protested on the Muscat airport road.

“Our objective of this protest is for our wages to be raised,” said one protester, who declined to be identified. Police asked the protesters to disperse but there were no reports of violence.

Some travellers said they had missed their flights. “I was due to fly to Mumbai this morning but due to roadblocks I missed the flight,” Raj Mehta said.


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