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VP, Kirkuk officials discuss Article 140.

Byline: SS

KIRKUK, July 6 (VOI) Co Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on Sunday discussed with local officials from Kirkuk Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution and provincial council elections during an official visit to the city, a presidential media source said.

"Today, Hashemi met with Kirkuk Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa; and the chairman of the city's provincial council, Razkar Ali, and discussed with them the issues of Kirkuk and provincial council elections," the source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told Aswat al-Iraq-Voices of Iraq- (VOI).

The Iraqi government hopes that provincial council elections, scheduled to take place in early October, will curtail acts of violence in the country by including armed groups in the political process.

The source noted that the delegation accompanying the vice president includes MP Khaled Shawani from the Kurdistan Coalition (KC) and Saad al-Din Arkij from the Turkmen Front.

Hashemi is expected to meet with directors of local departments and will end his visit to the city this afternoon, the same source added.

Earlier today, a source from Kirkuk provincial council said that Hashemi arrived in Kirkuk city to discuss several issues with local officials.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas.

Kurds seek to include the city in the autonomous Iraq's Kurdistan region, while Sunni Muslims, Turkmen and Shiites oppose the incorporation. The article currently stipulates that all Arabs in Kirkuk be returned to their original locations in southern and central Iraqi areas, and formerly displaced residents returned to Kirkuk, 250 km northeast of Baghdad. The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.

These stages were supposed to end on December 31, 2007, a deadline that was later extended to six months to end in July 2008.

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Publication:Aswat al-Iraq (Erbil, Iraq)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jul 6, 2008
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