Iraq’s Planning Minister Ali Baban is worried about the possible effects of the national census if it is ever carried out. In his latest statement he suggested that the survey be delayed until a new government is formed. Baban told the state-run Al-Sabah newspaper that the political instability in the country caused by the lack of a government seven months after elections was a good reason to push back the census a fourth time.
Earlier in the month Baban raised more controversy when he brought up the idea of dropping a question about ethnosectarian identity from the census. He cited the protests in Ninewa and Tamim over the possible affects of the census upon the disputed territories as the cause. In both provinces Arabs and Turkmen are wary of Kurdish aspirations to annex areas such as Kirkuk. If the national survey shows a Kurdish majority in any of the disputed areas that would be the first step to Kurdistan officially joining them to their region. The Kurds reacted angrily to Baban’s suggestion, and threatened a boycott if the question was not in the census.
The census has already been delayed three times. It was originally scheduled for 2007, but the sectarian civil war shelved that idea. Baghdad tried again in 2008, but concerns about the disputed territories pushed it back to 2010. It was supposed to happen on October 24 this year, but Ninewa’s refusal to conduct the poll because of the presence of peshmerga within the governorate, and questions about the future of Kirkuk delayed it again. It is now due to be held on December 5 unless Planning Minister Baban, and the Arabs and Kurds in Ninewa and Tamim have their way.
DPA, “Iraqi Minister: Census should be delayed until government in place,” 10/27/10