Monday, March 9, 2009

Could De Mistura ‘pour water on fire’ this time?

UN delegation meets with local officials over Kirkuk

 The U.N. special envoy to Iraq on Wednesday ended his two-day visit to Kirkuk where he discussed the issue of implementing article 140 as well as the upcoming provincial elections in the disputed territories, officials said.

 The UN envoy headed by Staffan De Mistura separately met with Kirkuk governor, Abdul-Rahman Mustafa, head of the provincial council, Rizgar Ali, along with the political blocs in the province.

 At a press conference in Kirkuk before his leave, De Mistura made clear about the results of his meetings in the city.

 “Kirkuk issue is very complicated and it is an internal affair; and we help the people of the city to reach solutions about it,” stated De Mistura and assured that they work according to the Iraqi constitution.

 He announced that after the expected local election at end of the coming January special committees will be formed for finding suitable solution to the article 23 of the Iraqi provincial councils election law.

The law passed on 24 of the last September contains procedures for holding the local elections in Kirkuk province.

“We don’t want to complicate the issues but we will work for writing future reports and will offer them to different sides in order to solve the complications,” he added.

 Muhammad Kamal, a Kurdish member from the Brotherhood List of the Kirkuk provincial council said, “During the meeting with the Brotherhood, we criticized the sluggishness of De Mistura’s works and the delay in releasing his reports on Kirkuk.”

 The UN envoy was supposed to publish a report in November on the current circumstances in Kirkuk in an attempt to pave the way for the execution of article 140 of the Constitution. Many hope the implementation of the article will settle the differences between Erbil and Baghdad over the places known as the disputed areas.  

Regarding the delay, de Mistura had announced earlier that he is in the country “to pour water on fire and not oil on it." De Mistura also said that the normalization process would begin after local elections set for January next year.

On May 5 the UN envoy announced his first report suggesting Hamdaniya and Mandali to remain within Baghdad’s administrative rule, while it gave the Kurdistan Regional Government the administrative right to Akre and Makhmur towns.

The other two UN reports which also include Kirkuk have not yet been released.

The Brotherhood list member also pointed out that the meeting also addressed the issue of carrying out article 23 of the provincial elections law that puts special mechanisms into effect for local elections in Kirkuk. The UN official, furthermore, discussed the article 140 of the constitution with the Kirkuk officials.

“De Mistura announced that the UN attempts to keep article 140 valid despite the fact that most of the Iraqi powers consider it a dead article. He regards it (the article) as the best solution to settle the issue for the city,” said Rebwar Talabani, another member of the Brotherhood during the meeting with the head of Kirkuk provincial council

Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution calls on normalizing situations, holding a census, and then holding a referendum in the disputed areas. The Iraqi government failed to fulfill the steps on time, which should have been the end of 2007.

Both Erbil and Baghdad in last June agreed on U.N. input of offering technical support to solve the issue.

All the meetings of de Mistura with the Kirkuk officials were in closed rooms where reporters were not allowed.

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