Qaboos fires two senior ministers

Ravindra Nath
Filed on March 6, 2011
Qaboos fires two senior ministers

In a new development amid mounting protests throughout the country calling for reforms, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said dropped two senior & powerful ministers from the cabinet.

He replaced Minister of Diwan of Royal Court Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi with Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud Al Busaidi, and Minister of Royal Office General Ali bin Majid Al Ma’amari with Lieutenant-General Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nu’amani.

Sayyid Khalid was until now the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, while Nu’amani held the position of Secretary-General of Royal Court Affairs.

Sultan Qaboos appointed Nasr bin Hamoud bin Ahmed Al Kindi as the new Secretary-General of the Royal Court Affairs with the rank of a minister.

Last week, in a major reshuffle, the Sultan had made several changes in the cabinet, including naming a new minister of commerce and industry. The Ministries of Diwan of Royal Court and Royal Office were untouched in that reallocation.

Protesters around the country, seeking political and economic reforms, had in recent days intensified their stir, pointing out, among other things, that all long-serving ministers had been retained in last week’s shuffle. They demanded a total overhaul of the cabinet and changes to the constitution.

Against this backdrop, there were strong rumours that more changes in the cabinet were in the offing. Both the sacked ministers were regarded as close confidantes of Sultan Qaboos. In fact, it was Sayyid Ali that Sultan Qaboos dispatched to Sohar to hold talks with the demonstrators after riots broke out there on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution Department (PPD), given autonomy and extensive powers by Sultan Qaboos in last week’s reforms, on Saturday warned that stern action would be taken against those who indulge in acts of vandalism and arson.

“The Public Prosecution Department followed with concern the events in Sohar and some other wilayats of the sultanate which included setting fire, vandalising and damaging of public and private property, as well as blocking roads and hampering traffic flow, which resulted in grave public and private damage,” a statement said, adding: “All these acts are against the laws, the tenets of the Islamic Shariah and the morals the Omani society are known for”.

It noted that the Basic Law of the State, which allowed freedom of opinion and expression, also guaranteed security of public and private property.

The PPD said it would launch investigations against those who incited and carried out acts of vandalism and sabotage and bring them to justice. It also called on citizens and resident to inform the authorities if they came across such criminal activities.

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