Oman - Political background

Oman is an absolute monarchy with no constitution, elected legislature, or legal political parties. After becoming the sultan, Qaboos appointed his uncle, Tariq Bin Taymur, as prime minister. Tariq resigned in 1971, and since then, the sultan has presided over the cabinet meetings and acted as his own prime minister, minister of defense, and minister of foreign affairs. The cabinet, which consists of personal aides, assists the sultan in running the government and is permitted to make decisions in the sultan's absence. In 1981, the sultan established a Consultative Council, which consisted of appointed members who met quarterly. In 1983, its membership was expanded to 55 members; in 1991, the consultative council was replaced by the 59-seat Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council). Following the census of 1993, the Majlis al-Shura was expanded to 80 seats. In 1996, the sultan issued the country's first written list of citizen's rights, and created a bicameral advisory body known as the Majlis Oman (Council of Oman). In addition to the expanded Majlis al-Shura, whose 83 members are theoretically elected, a second chamber, the 48-seat Majlis al-Dawla (appointed Council of State), was created.

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