Oman is a despotic monarchy. The hereditary Sultan has ultimate powers and unrestricted authority. The Sultan of Oman issues law by decree and even the county’s judicial system is subordinate to him. The Sultan presides over the nation’s armed forces, the Central Bank, Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Oman has a bicameral parliament. The upper chamber, called the Council of State, has 83 eminent members chosen by the Sultan to serve four-year terms. The lower house comprises 84 members elected by citizens to represent their provinces for four-year terms which are renewable. However, in spite of the selection being by popular vote, the Sultan has the final say on the choices.

Being a monarchy, Oman does not hold elections for the head of state. The Sultan assumes the throne by succession. The country’s law dictates that the firstborn son is the preferred heir to inherit his father’s throne. There is no term limit for the Sultan, and anyone who opposes the monarch or the government is arrested and tortured. The only elections that are held in Oman are for representatives to the lower chamber, who are chosen by a popular vote. After the elections, however, the sultan can still negotiate the results. Political parties are not allowed in the country, and candidates vie independently.

Sultan Qaboos has six royal residences, but his ceremonial palace is the Al Alam Palace which is located in Muscat. He uses it for official functions and to receive distinguished visitors. The palace was built over 200 years ago by the current Sultan’s seventh direct grandfather, Imam Sultan bin Ahmed. Sultan Qaboos rebuilt it in 1972 as his royal residence. Both houses of parliament also have their seats in Muscat.

Political parties are not allowed to operate in Oman.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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