Oman's elected council of people's representatives, the Majlis Ash'shura, which has been aggressively wielding its newly-granted legislative powers in recent weeks, is demanding to question the oil and gas minister over his ‘inaction' during last month's strike by oilfield workers.
Forty-two of the council's 84 members have signed a memo to summon the minister to answer questions about his reported inaction when hundreds of mainly Omani employees of oil companies struck work demanding better pay and other benefits that threatened to paralyse the country's vital oil production. The protests were called off after several days following intervention by the Majlis.
Deputy Chairman of the council Salim bin Ali Al Kaabi, reading out a statement issued by the 42 members, said the move to grill the minister was in line with new auditing and legislative powers granted to the Majlis by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said through a decree last year.
Underlining the absence of the minister during the agitation, Kaabi said the Majlis believed that the crisis could not be adequately tackled because of this. The members consider the minister's absence a ‘breach of his official duties', he added.
The presence of the minister, the statement said, was highly needed "to speak to the parties concerned and apply pressure on the companies to find a quick solution".
"The crisis would have gone out of control if the Majlis members did not intervene. The lack of a high ranking official in the field to resolve the problem prolonged the crisis and harmed the reputation of the sultanate and entailed huge cost," Kaabi said.
The striking employees agreed to go back to work on June 1 after a high-level team from the council held extensive negotiations with them, lasting several days.