Oman’s sultan announced fresh changes to the country's constitution on Monday, January 10. One of the important changes includes the introduction of the post of the crown prince; other steps aim to encourage transparency in the government. The development comes as the Oman government faced growing pressures at home.
The amendments bring Oman into closer conformity with other Gulf kingdoms and eliminate the fear of any destabilising succession crisis that can happen in the future. Sultan Haitham has also organised ministries that were once controlled by his predecessor. The sultan also changed Oman’s basic law to allow for the appointment of a crown prince, which is a common practice in the Gulf states.
The decree introduced by the sultan includes a committee to review the performance of senior government officials. This is also an effort to encourage accountability. Talking about the changes introduced, Bader al-Saif, an assistant professor of history at Kuwait University, called it a "revolutionary" move. He added, "It took (Sultan Haitham) a year to absorb everything, and now he’s pushing ahead with his own stamp. You don’t change the basic law lightly."
Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said is the former culture minister of Oman and he came to power after the death of his cousin Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died at the age of 79. According to reports, after Qaboos' death, the council's high military council had called the ruling family to convene and choose a new ruler. Three days of official mourning were declared with flags flown at half-mast for 40 days. Qaboos had ruled since taking over in a bloodless coup in 1970 with the help of former colonial power Britain. His cause of death was not announced, however, he had been unwell for years and reportedly spent a week in Belgium undergoing medical treatment in early December. Sultan Qaboos had no children.