Oman’s Sultan Qaboos has changed his Cabinet for the second time in a week, following days of protests demanding political reforms and an end to government corruption.
On Saturday, the sultan appointed a new minister of the royal court and minister of the royal office. The Omani ruler had already made changes to his cabinet a week earlier in an apparent bid to head off protests for political change sweeping other countries in the Arab world.
Sultan Qaboos has also ordered the creation of 50,000 new jobs and an increase in unemployment benefits.
Protesters continued a sit-in protest Saturday in the town of Sohar, about 200 kilometers northwest of the capital, Muscat.
There have been numerous demonstrations and sit-ins throughout the country in the past week, including some that resulted in clashes with security forces. The Omani government acknowledges that one demonstrator died in the unrest, but media reports quote unofficial estimates with higher casualty numbers.
Analysts say the anti-government sentiment in Oman differs from the rest of the region’s recent turmoil in that there appears to be much more support for the country’s leader.
Protesters have not been calling for Sultan Qaboos to step down, but rather, to institute reforms and end corruption. Rival demonstrations also have been held in support of the Omani leader throughout the country.
Regional experts credit Sultan Qaboos with instituting a number of modernizing reforms during his 40-year reign.