Muscat: Activists in Oman have pledged not to relax till reforms are implemented in the country.
After Friday prayers, people staging sit-ins in three cities took out marches in Muscat, Salalah and Sur. "Like in the past weeks, the peaceful march in Salalah was very strong in presence of people," an activist, who preferred anonymity, told Gulf News on Friday.
One of the banners carried out by marchers read ‘people won't relax until reforms take place'. "We agree a number of concessions have been granted but we need complete reforms," the activist said, justifying continuation of peaceful sit-ins in Muscat, Sur and Salalah.
In January, first of the series of peaceful marches was taken out in Muscat's Al Khuwair district, the area which again saw another peaceful march after the Friday prayers. Although the number was not very big, the activists said the idea was to keep the movement going till complete reforms, including changes in Basic Law of the country, are taken.
The protests have generally been peaceful and security agencies have avoided interference right from the start.
However, the protests in Sohar did turn violent on more than two occasions, forcing army to use force, including firing. Two people have so far died in action by the security agencies to quell violent protests in Sohar.
Since the last violent protest on April 1, Sohar has been peaceful as the army took charge of the Industrial Port town and forced out all activists from staging sit-ins and blocking roads.
Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed has taken several decisions that satisfied the demands raised by the activists but they are demanding more reforms, including freedom of speech and freedom of the media.
The Omani monarch raised minimum wages for Omani citizens in private sector, raised pension for retired civil service employees, ordered creation of 50,000 jobs for the Omani nationals and also sanctioned 150 Omani riyals as the unemployment allowance besides making series of changes.
He also reshuffled the council of Ministers, picking more than half a dozen new ministers who were elected representatives of the people of Oman.
He created an independent audit bureau and also gave legislative and regulatory powers to the country's only body that has members elected by the people of Oman.
However, some activists continue to demonstrate in Muscat, Sur in the east and outside the Governor's Office in Salalah in the south.
For the last three weeks, rallies after Friday prayers has become regular in Salalah and this week people in Sur and Muscat also took out similar rallies.