x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sultan Qaboos fires Oman's police chief

Protesters hail dismissal of man who was previously a personal bodyguard of the Ruler of Oman in the 1980s and say all 'corrupt' officials must go.

MUSCAT // The police chief of Oman was fired yesterday in the latest in a string of high-profile dismissals handed down by Sultan Qaboos.
The move came as demonstrations continued in the country, with protesters demanding reforms and an end to corruption.
Lieutenant General Hassan bin Mohsin Al Shraiqi was named to replace Lieutenant General Malik bin Suleiman Al Maamary as Inspector General of the Police and Customs, the Oman News Agency said.
General Maamary, previously the minister of communications and transport, was a personal bodyguard of the Sultan in the 1980s and a close aide. Many say his removal stems from a failure to contain police forces that fired live bullets into a stone-throwing crowd on February 27, killing one protester in the industrial city of Sohar.
Some protesters have also blamed General Maamary for years of cover-ups that protected allegedly corrupt officials.
Fadhil Al Hosni, a protester outside the Shura Council headquarters in Muscat, said: "He abused his position as police chief by turning a blind eye to top officials who committed corruption. He simply had to go if we are to have a credible police force."
The dismissal has been viewed as a concession to the protesters, but anti-government hardliners are urging the Sultan tomake further changes.
Khalfan Al Abri, another protester in Muscat, said: "Our demands are being met one by one and we have to give the Sultan the credit for it. Maamary is the latest on our list of incompetent and corrupt officials that must go."
The Sultan on Sunday ordered the 154-member Council of Oman to recommend changes in the country's constitution that would give it legislative powers. The Council of Oman consists of the Shura Council, a body of elected officials, and the State Council, which is appointed by the Sultan. Until now, only the Sultan and his cabinet have held lawmaking powers.
In recent days, the Sultan has also boosted retirees' pensions by 50 per cent and doubled social security allowances.
Additionally, 10 cabinet ministers were dismissed last week and replaced by five elected members of the Shura Council. The move was hailed by protesters as a first step towards an elected government.
Two days after the riots in Sohar, the Sultan granted monthly unemployment benefits of 150 rials (Dh1,450) and later removed the head of state security and the minister of diwan of the royal court.
 
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