DUBAI, Jan 13, (AP): Oman’s sultan announced a shake-up of the Gulf country’s constitution with changes that include the appointment of a crown prince for the first time and steps to boost government transparency, the state-run news agency reported.
The move, one year after the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who pulled Oman into modernity and deftly navigated the region’s sectarian and political divides, comes as the government faces growing pressures at home.
The constitutional amendments bring iconoclast Oman into closer conformity with other Gulf sheikhdoms and dispel fears of any destabilizing succession crisis in the future. Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the former culture minister, came to power last year amid intense speculation that gripped the sultanate after the death of his cousin, who left no heirs. His name was written in a sealed envelope left in the palace in Muscat.
Now, there will be no more mystery or tempestuous theatrics. Sultan Haitham, who quietly has made his mark over the past year by renaming and reorganizing ministries once controlled by his predecessor, changed Oman’s basic law to allow for the appointment of a crown prince, the succession practice of every other Arab Gulf state.
Monday’s announcement did not specify who the crown prince would be or what responsibilities he would have. “This is revolutionary,” said Bader Al-Saif, an assistant professor of history at Kuwait University who studies Oman.