Sohar: Protesters in the industrial town of Sohar told Gulf News in a written statement that they regret the violence that marred their peaceful protests and publicly apologised to the country's ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed for the sabotage caused by some miscreants to public and private property.

However, they stand by their demands and want the ruler to give heed to their demands.

"We have confidence in the Sultan that he will respond to our demands," said a statement made available exclusively to Gulf News.

The protesters have listed certain demands that they want the Sultan to address promptly.

They want revision of the Statute of the State and restrict term of a minister to not exceeding five years and make them accountable like any other government employee.

The protesters also want an independent monitoring agency that would keep a check on public expenditure.

The protesters have specifically named National Economy Minister Ahmad Bin Abdul Nabi Macki and demanded an inquiry into his personal wealth and businesses. They blame the minister for the woes of the common man in the country.

The protesters are also demanding improvement in the standards of living by raising their salaries to the level that a family can afford decent livelihood.

Other demands are: removal or reduction of some of the taxes on water, electricity, telephone, complete abolition of two Omani riyal tax for crossing over to Dubai and partial/complete waiver of bank loans of the poor citizens.

"Those who have paid installments of their loans for two years or more could be given the waiver," the statement said.

"The waiver on loans would definitely bring a lot of containment among the citizens," the statement claimed.

The protesters are worried about Omanis in small enterprises as they will have to pay the minimum wage of 200 Omani riyals. "These small businessmen should be given annual grants so that they can bear the cost of raising salaries for the citizens."

The protesters also want an end to co-education. "We want boys and girls to study separately," says the demand. They have also asked for reduction in number of school hours so that pupils are not overtaxed.

"We hope that our demands are met with and freedom of expression honoured," the statement added.

"There is no room for corruption and crime in our society," the statement concluded.