The protests in Oman reached a new level of intensity this weekend, when protesters set a government building on fire in Ibri and municipal workers in Muscat announced a general strike. The moves, it seems, are having an impact.
In the face of the growing unrest, Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id, the absolute monarch of the nation, announced that he will for the first time ever grant the power to make laws and regulations to the two houses of parliament, which previously held only an “advisory” role.
The move is hugely symbolic, but also probably short of the reforms envisioned by the protesters, as the upper house of parliament remains entirely appointed by the sultan, and there was no indication as to whether the sultan would retain veto power.
Protesters insisted that they would continue to march in the streets until they were assured that the Shura Council, the house of parliament that is actually elected, is given real power in the running of the government. This may be a long way from realized, but the protesters have at least some progress toward that end.