Oman protesters set up camp in Muscat govt district

Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:13pm GMT

* About 100 protesters move into govt district in capital

* Workers continue to stage sit-ins over wages

By Saleh al-Shaibany

MUSCAT, March 22 (Reuters) - About 100 Omani demonstrators set up tents on Tuesday in a district of the capital housing the main government ministries, demanding political reform.

Protests against autocratic rulers sweeping the region have not spared conservative and usually tranquil Oman at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula whose Gulf Arab dynasty has long been backed by Washington.

In power for 40 years, Sultan Qaboos this month began moves to cede some legislative powers to the partially elected Oman Council, which is so far only an advisory body. At present, only the sultan and his cabinet can legislate.

The government also said it would double monthly welfare payments and increase pension benefits. But workers at many public and private companies have continued to stage sit-ins and strikes over wages, including at two refineries on Sunday.

The camp in Al Khuwair is the second in the capital. Several weeks ago prostesters set up tents outside parliament. Activists are also camped out nightly in tents in front of the governor's office in Salalah in the far south and in Sohar where at least one person died in protests and clashes with police last month.   Continued...

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