Baghdad: Iraq said on Sunday it has postponed
plans to hold the first census in more than two decades due to
fears it could stoke ethnic and political tension.
The census had been scheduled for October 24. But
Planning Minister Ali Baban said it has been postponed
indefinitely because of reservations by political groups in
the volatile northern areas, where territory is disputed
between Arabs and Kurds.
The population count would have settled controversies
over the size of the country`s religious and ethnic
communities. It also has implications for decisions over the
fate of the oil-rich area of Kirkuk as well as the budget
allocation for the self-ruled Kurdish region in the north.
"The Planning Ministry is technically ready for the
census, but after hearing some fears and reservations from
political groups in Kirkuk and Ninevah, we decided to stall
and the census has been postponed indefinitely," he told
reporters during a visit to the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
Many lawmakers had called for it to be postponed until
after parliamentary elections scheduled for January, arguing
that war has caused radical change in the sectarian makeup of
many areas and the results could ignite new tension.