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Oman Curbs Corruption To Quell Dissent

Oman is actively tackling corruption in response to the 2011 Omani Spring, Ahmed Ali M. al-Mukhaini writes.
Protesters hold signs reading "Stop killing people in Sohar" and "Release our fathers, brothers, and sons" during a protest in front of the Public Prosecution building in Muscat April 2, 2011. Protests in Oman, which pumps out 800,000 barrels of oil a day, have focused on demands for better wages, jobs and an end to corruption. Many protesters have demanded that the government be held accountable for the detention of hundreds of demonstrators in Sohar. REUTERS/Said Al Bahri (OMAN- Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITIC

Over the last few months, several Omani government officials have been questioned over accusations of abusing power or embezzlement of public funds.  The list includes former ministers, former undersecretaries and some senior officials who are still in office. Court procedures, still ongoing, are being closely watched by the public with anticipation and great expectations. The outcome of these court procedures will set precedence and bolster the much talked-about Rule of Law "if and only if the accused were convicted and properly sentenced." This comment, fraught with contradiction, reflects lessons learned from the past 40 years of governance in Oman and a new vision. This trend came at the awakening of the 2011 Omani spring, which brought in a new perspective toward transparency and anti-corruption measures in the Sultanate of Oman.

Holders of public offices in Oman often felt in the past that they were shielded from public scrutiny or legal prosecution. This false feeling was synthesized by a lack of retribution, where culprits of corruption were left untouched or, even worse, in some cases seemed to have been rewarded, which made them the new "role models" of success. These "role models" encouraged further corruption and created a rupture in confidence and trust between the administration and people. This consequently led to a growing sense of apathy toward public funds and expediency. In turn, corruption became rampant among government officials, both senior and junior. The situation was further compounded with more "role models" being created and rewarded.

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