Saturday, 05 September 2009, 05:23 GMT
KRG worried about delaying general census

Iraqi Sunni and Shiite community leaders attend the Arab Political Council in Kirkuk on August 12. AFP

The Kurdish Globe

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) immediately expressed concern after the declaration of an Iraqi government decree delaying the process of counting the population for one year.

"The KRG is concerned that the decree has been issued. The census process is a national right for all Iraq, including Kurdistan Region. By holding the census, all of us would have benefited from the great information that would have been gained," said Osman Shwani, KRG Minister of Planning. Shwani explained that the delay had political backgrounds.

The decree came during a meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, according to a statement published by government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh on Thursday. Al-Dabagh stated that the Council of the Ministers agreed to postpone the census until October 2010 as reply to "social changes" in provinces of dispute.

The spokesman justified the delay as a chance to continue preparations in reply to demands for the delay by some social components, especially in the provinces of Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Diyala.

Al-Dabagh said the decree allows them "to settle issues relevant to the administration of counting works in some areas, and to ensure the safety of technical procedures and keep it uninfluenced by political situations and the structure changes in demography."

"The census delay came because of a political reason rather than technical. Technical preparations have been met. When Iraqi Planning Minister Ali Baban visited Kirkuk, except the Kurds, the Arab and Turkmen components expressed their disagreement on holding a census," said the KRG Planning Minister in explaining their view regarding the Iraqi government decree.

Shwani revealed that the Kurds had suggested counting people in the disputed areas by committees composed of each Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen members, "to remove the doubt" on the process there. He also announced that the KRG is ready for the census to be held anytime. KRG plans to hire more than 80,000 to perform the counting.