Photo: Happy young voters with photo's of their preferred candidates. Sunil K. Vaidya/Gulf News
After the elections, as promised to the protesters earlier this year, HM also issued the first major constitutional change since the Basic Law of the State was issued in 1996, granting (limited) legislative powers to the Shura and allowing the Majlis Ash' Shura to elect their own Chairman. The law even allows 15 members of the Majlis Ash'Shura to summon a 'Services' Minister for a grilling.
The decree updated the process of how a successor to the Sultan is selected, replacing the Defense Council with a small committee that includes the Majlis Chairman.
These are certainly big changes, and represent another step on the path to more effective representative government. Muscat Confidential has long held the view that HM has a goal of leaving Oman with a Constitutional Monarchy, and this is a key part of such a transition. Local legal-eagle BluChi wrote a good summary of the changes here.
Oman Daily Observer
Fri, 21 October 2011
Article 58 (bis 35): The draft laws prepared by the government shall be referred to the Majlis Oman for approval or amendment and then directly be submitted to His Majesty to issue them. In case of any amendments by the Majlis Oman on a draft law, His Majesty may return the same to the council for reconsidering the amendments and then shall be submitted again to His Majesty.
Article 58 (bis 36): The Majlis Oman may propose draft laws and refer the same to the government for assessment and returning the same to the Majlis, procedures provide for in Article 58 (bis 35) shall be followed in approving, amending or issuing the said draft laws.
Article 58 (bis 43): On a request signed by at least 15 members of the Majlis Ash’shura of any of the services ministers may be subject to interpellation on matters related to exceeding their prerogatives by acting in contrary to the law. The Majlis shall debate the same and submit the outcome to His Majesty the Sultan.
The results of the election showed how most of the voting is still done along tribal lines, with some people reporting that they were even told to vote for the local tribal leader. As political parties remain illegal in Oman, this is probably no surprise. Without a coordinated party structure, it is hard for potential Shura members to establish a cohesive manifesto, and even harder for voters to really know what they are voting for wrt specific policies or new legislation. But at least the ban on all polital parties keeps out the election of a dedicated religious extremist party.
It is questionable whether the Shura has the capability to use these new powers. This would require the Shura members be given the budget and authority to assemble a staff of advisors, who could then analyse the draft legislation sent from the Council of Ministers, and have a bigger chance of doing a decent job writing suitable amendments. The Shura need independent lawyers and experienced technocrats to take on the civil servants in the Ministries.
Oman still struggles to overcome the historic burden of tribalism and family-related favouritism. But, hey, this new law is a good start in a region not known for democracy.
Bit of a catch up on miscellaneous news.
Oman to offer Ghaddafi family asylum?
Strange report today that Oman was prepared to give the Ghaddafi family political asylum. Interesting.
While Oman is a signatory (in December 2000) to the International Criminal Court treaty, they have not yet ratified the treaty and so are not at present a 'State Party' to the ICC. So how any ICC arrest warrants would apply in Oman is a bit vague.
Oman 'ready' to give Gaddafi family policial asylum
Oct 27, 2011 22:16 Moscow Time
The authorities of Oman are prepared to grant political asylum to the members of Muammar Gaddafi’s family, Ash-Shark al-Ausat newspaper reports with reference to Libyan sources.
The authorities stressed that members of Muammar Gaddafi’s family will not be involved in politics in Oman.
According to other sources close to Gaddafi’s family, its surviving members may go to South Africa in the coming days where they will be joined by Gaddafi’s son Saadi who is now in Niger. (TASS)
If true, I wonder if we'll see this story in the Times of Oman?
Iranian Threat prompts Oman to buy advanced US anti-aircraft missile systems.
It seems releasing Iranian hostages can help get you access to some nice military kit. Oman is buyinga suite of advanced US anti-aircraft missiles. These would be capable of shooting down unmanned drones as well as helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. While the Iranian airforce may not be up to much, I guess it's always nice to be prepared.
Photo: the SLAMRAAM anti-aircraft system by Raytheon. Toys for the boys.
October 28, 2011: The Persian Gulf state of Oman is buying 18 American Avenger anti-aircraft systems, as well as 266 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles for them. Also being purchased on 290 SLAMRAAM (ground launched AMRAAM air-to-air missiles) and twenty Hummers to serve as launchers. A Sentinel radar system is being bought to support the SLAMRAAMs.
Avengers are hummers with a turret mounted on the back. The turret contains two missile pods (each containing four Stinger anti-aircraft missiles). Under one pod there is an M3P .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine gun. The weapons operator has use of a FLIR (night vision device) and a laser range finder. The machine-gun, however, can't be depressed sufficiently to fire at ground targets towards the front of the vehicle. The missiles have a range of four kilometers, the machine-gun about half that. The usual price is $12-15 million per Avenger system, including Stinger missiles, training gear, spare parts and training and technical assistance.