Monday, September 10, 2007


Iraqi minister signs $6 mn. worth of compensation cheques for Arabs in Kirkuk

(Voices of Iraq) - An Iraqi minister said she signed hundreds of checks at a total value of 6 million dollars on Sunday as compensations for the Arabs returning from Kirkuk to their original areas. "The Iraqi government allocated 200 million dollars as compensations for Arabs in Kirkuk who wish to return to their original provinces," said Nermin Othman, the minister of environment and the official in charge of financial affairs in the high committee on the application of article 140 of the constitution, during a press conference held in Arbil on Sunday.
Othman did not set a number of Arabs to receive the compensations, noting her committee forwarded a budget for the year 2008. "We offered the budget for the year 2008 because we believe that disbursing those compensations would not end this year," she said.
Art. 140 of the Iraqi constitution provides for normalizing conditions in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, 250 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, over three stages, starting with having the displaced Iraqis residing there returned to their original areas and compensated and ending with a referendum by the end of 2007 on whether Kirkuk should be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Article 140 of Iraq’s constitution states that in Kirkuk there must be a normalization (return of expelled and deported citizens), a census and then a referendum to be carried out no later than the end of 2007. Eligible citizens will vote in the referendum to decide whether they wish Kirkuk to be part of the Kurdistan Region, or to be a separate province outside it.
Implementation of article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is pertinent to the overall security situation of Iraq. Approved by the Shiite and Kurds, Article 140 calls for reversing the "Arabization" policy implemented under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Othman said each Arab family wishing to return to its original province would get 20 million Iraqi dinars (roughly US$ 16,000) with a plot of land in the city to which it would go and will have the right to sell their property in Kirkuk and other disputed areas. "Moreover, the displaced Kurds wishing to return to Kirkuk would have 10 million Iraqi dinars (roughly US$ 8,000) per each family," she said.
The Iraqi officials said she does not have an accurate number of the Arabs residing in Kirkuk and willing to return to their original provinces. "The number is growing day by day. There are some who register for returning to their original provinces while other Arabs do not wish to return," she noted.

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