Recent reports suggest that Oman is preparing for a process to appoint a successor to its ailing sultan, who has been suffering from resurgent colorectal cancer.
On Sunday, The Guardian cited the reports, which had surfaced over the past several days pointing to the head of state Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said’s unpromising health condition and the sultanate’s readiness for the delicate protocol that enables the appointment of his successor.
Sultan Qaboos — who has been at the helm of the state for around half a century — traveled to Belgium early in December to seek medical treatment. He, however, returned last week amid no accurate account about why his stay there had to be cut short.
He also absented himself from an annual Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia last week.
Should he pass, the sultanate’s court has to pick a replacement in three days. The sultan has already named his desired successor, but has kept his identity secret to avoid political fallout.
He has penned the name of the heir to the throne in separate sealed letters, which would be opened in case the court failed to agree on a successor.
A first letter is kept at the palace in the capital Muscat, and another one, written in case the first one goes missing or for authentication purposes in the southern port city of Salalah.
The reports cited by the paper also suggested that the second duplicate letter is being readied to be taken to Muscat in preparation for opening because of the seriousness of the sultan’s condition and unresolved disputes within the court.
The nation’s defense council, the head of the Supreme Court and the heads of the two chambers of the consultative council would together open the first envelope containing Qaboos’s choice.
Oman has brokered conflict resolution negotiations among many regional states under Qaboos.
The sultanate, however, notoriously hosted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year amid vocal cautions against attempts at bringing the regional Arab states and the regime close.