Sultan Haitham of Oman issues new law to create crown prince role

Ruler of Oman has made sweeping changes in his first year in office

FILE PHOTO: Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (not pictured) at al-Alam palace in Muscat, Oman February 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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Oman’s Sultan Haitham issued a new basic law on Monday to formalise succession and create the role of crown prince.

The basic law is the cornerstone of the Omani legal system. The first, issued in 1996, effectively gave Oman a codified constitution for the first time. The law can only be amended by the sultan.

A statement issued alongside the new legislation said it was an “affirmation of the principles upon which the Sultanate of Oman was founded” and aimed to “continue efforts to forge a better future, characterised by more achievements for the benefit of the homeland and the citizens”.

Sultan Haitham also announced his intention to appoint a crown prince for the first time in Oman’s history, state news agency ONA reported.

The 1996 Basic Law says the royal family must choose a successor within three days, or abide by the wishes of a late sultan written in a letter.

Sultan Haitham was chosen to lead the nation on January 11, 2020, after authorities opened a letter penned by the late Sultan Qaboos.

The new decree seeks to formalise that process with a "specific and stable mechanism," but details have not yet been released.

The new law is part of a series of changes towards the country’s Vision 2040 – a strategy to pull Oman away from its dependence on oil dividends and encourage development.

It reaffirms rights for citizens, including equality between the sexes, compulsory basic education, rights for the disabled and a new role for prisons as institutions for “reform and rehabilitation”.

Sultan Haitham has made sweeping changes since assuming power, including cutting the number of government ministries for 26 to 19 to save cash.

What ministries remain will be held accountable by a new committee under the basic law.