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Omani army ends pro-reform sit-in

Oman's pro-reform protest in Earth roundabout was terminated by the army ending a month-long sit-in

AFP , Tuesday 29 Mar 2011
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The Omani army stormed on Tuesday the Earth roundabout in Sohar removing a small group of pro-reform protesters and ending a month-old sit-in, witnesses said.

Army troops attacked the central area of the northern industrial town at dawn, witnesses said, adding that less than 20 demonstrators were on the roundabout.

ONA state news agency said security forces arrested some "wanted people in Sohar" for "blocking roads and attacking security men".

The spot had become central for Omani anti-corruption protests after one demonstrator was killed by security forces at a nearby police station at the end of February.

Around 300 demonstrators have since been gathering in the evenings at Earth roundabout, demanding jobs, better pay and an end to alleged corruption.

Sultan Qaboos took several outreaching measures aimed at calming protests that spread to the capital, including reshuffling the cabinet and giving orders to vest the toothless parliament with legislative and regulatory powers.

Protests broke out in the placid Gulf state as a wave of pro-democracy uprisings hit many Arab states and forced the ouster of the veteran presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.

But demonstrators in Oman insisted all the way that their protest was aimed at "corrupt" officials, not at Qaboos himself, who has ruled the sultanate for 40 years.

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