February 28, 2011
Oman protesters unmoved by sultan’s offer
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) — Anti-government protesters in Oman refused to end protests Monday, despite orders from the sultan to hire 50,000 people and pay a stipend to people who are out of work, sources in the Gulf state told CNN.
Demonstrators in the town of Sohar have blocked routes to the port and the industrial zone, prompting port staff to leave work, two sources in the town said.
Protesters demands include greater freedom of expression, higher salaries, a clampdown on government corruption, a new constitution, and the prosecution of security officials whose actions led to the death of demonstrators.
It’s the third day of demonstrations in Oman’s second city, a key port.
Oman is not a major oil producer, but a significant share of the world’s oil shipping passes through the Strait of Hormuz, along the Omani coast. Oil prices did not appear to be spiking on Monday’s Omani unrest.
Witnesses did not report any clashes between security and the protesters, saying the two sides were keeping apart.
There were reports of attacks on property over the weekend, but on Monday the protesters organized committees to protect buildings and handle traffic, CNN’s sources said.
Fifteen young protesters submitted their demands in writing to officials Monday, with promises that the demands would passed to the sultan.
There have been calls for demonstrations in the capital Muscat on Tuesday.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said ordered the hiring of 50,000 citizens in the aftermath of weekend protests that left at least one person dead and 11 others injured, state-run media reported Sunday.
The ruler also issued royal orders saying job-seekers who register with the Ministry of Manpower will be paid 150 rials (about U.S. $390) per month until they find jobs, according to the Oman News Agency.
After reports of multiple deaths on Sunday, Ahmed Al Saidi, the minister of health, said there had only been one death.
The protests started Saturday and were ongoing Monday, said Zamzam al Rashdi, editor-in-chief of the state-run Oman News Agency. A supermarket was burned Monday morning, she said.
Sunday’s demonstration started peacefully before a couple of groups split off and started attacking a supermarket and a police station, and members from the Shura Council, al Rashdi said.
One of the targeted buildings was the Walli House, where the governor who represents the sultan in Sohar lives, a witness told CNN.
CNN’s Caroline Faraj, Jennifer Fenton and Victoria Brown contributed to this report.