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Oman's Sultan Shuffles Cabinet for Third Time

Oman leader Sultan Qaboos meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Muscat, Oman, January 12, 2011 (file photo)

Oman's Sultan Qaboos has changed his Cabinet for the third time in less than two weeks to appease anti-government protesters who are demanding political reforms and an end to government corruption.

The sultan announced Monday new heads for several ministries, including interior and commerce.

On Saturday, Sultan Qaboos appointed a new minister of the royal court and a new minister of the royal office, in addition to the changes he made to his cabinet a week earlier.

The Omani leader also has ordered the creation of 50,000 government jobs, a new government advisory committee and higher unemployment benefits in an effort to ease public anger that is fueling protests.

There have been numerous demonstrations and sit-ins throughout the country since the end of February. Some of the protests have resulted in clashes with security forces. The Omani government says one demonstrator died in the unrest, but media reports quote unofficial estimates with higher casualty numbers.

Protesters have not been calling for Sultan Qaboos to step down, but instead to institute reforms and end government corruption. There have been many rival demonstrations held in support for the Omani leader throughout the country.

Meanwhile, some 200 employees of the flag carrier Oman Air have staged a protest, demanding higher salaries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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