Iraqi Census Delayed Yet Again

The land dispute is mainly over a swathe of territory in northern Iraq, centring around the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, bordering the autonomous Kurdistan region.

Kurdish authorities in the northern regional capital of Erbil claim the land as their own, but Baghdad insists it should be administered by the central government.

There are fears that the dispute, particularly over the fate of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, could trigger open conflict.

To reduce tensions in the disputed area, the US military has this year been conducting joint patrols and manning checkpoints with Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Plans to hold the census in 2007 were scrapped because of nationwide sectarian violence.

The last census in 1987 counted a total Iraqi population of 16 million, but international organisations now put the figure at around 30 million.

(Sources: AFP, Reuters)

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