August 10, 2009 - 01:17:30
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Monday that Iraq needs to hold a census of Kirkuk’s residents to solve the disputed areas issue between the federal government of the Kurdistan regional government.
“We have to hold a census, and we have not made it due to the deteriorating security condition in the province and accusations regarding manipulating registries.
A parliamentary investigating committee was formed but it failed,” al-Maliki told reporters.
“I believe that understanding between Kirkuk’s components is the only way and guarantee to solve the cause,” he said.
“Kirkuk and Article 140 of the constitution have stages and different missions, some related to the government, and we did our role in forming the committee and allocating the money to pay the compensations and normalization the situation for three years,” the premier said.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas.
Kurds seek to include the city in the autonomous Iraq’s Kurdistan region, while Sunni Muslims, Turkmen and Shiites oppose the incorporation. The article currently stipulates that all Arabs in Kirkuk be returned to their original locations in southern and central Iraqi areas, and formerly displaced residents returned to Kirkuk, 250 km northeast of Baghdad.
The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.
These stages were supposed to end on December 31, 2007, a deadline that was later extended to six months to end in July 2008.