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Erbil-Baghdad dispute Kurdistan Region population figures - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A picture taken on September 12, 2013 shows an Iraqi Kurdish man walking past electoral campaign posters of candidates running in the Kurdistan parliament election, in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. (AFP)

A picture taken on September 12, 2013 shows an Iraqi Kurdish man walking past electoral campaign posters of candidates running in the Kurdistan parliament election, in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. (AFP)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sought to play down discrepancies in its population estimates for the region and those of Iraq’s federal government, denying that they are due to any “political agenda” on the part of Baghdad.

The latest figures issued by the federal government of Iraq place the total population of Iraqi Kurdistan at 5,100,087, whereas the KRG has stressed that more than 5.3 million people live in the region.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Mohamed Amin, chairman of the KRG’s Census Bureau, denied that the difference in figures is due to a political agenda or a miscount by Baghdad. However, he confirmed that the Iraqi government’s failure to count the extra 100,000 residents of the Kurdistan Region is due to a “contrasting perception over the Kurdistan Region’s borders.”

Amin said: “The Iraqi Ministry of planning does not account for some districts and areas that the Kurdistan Regional authorities are adamant are part of the region, particularly in the Erbil and Duhok provinces.”

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that KRG Census Bureau figures show that population figures have increased between 2.7 and 3.1 percent over the past years. He said: “These are good growth rates compared with other Iraqi provinces.”

Amin did not rule out the idea that demographic growth rates might represent “a controversial issue in the upcoming electoral campaigns for the Council of Representatives of Iraq in April 2014.” He also affirmed that the figures issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning “came directly from the Iraqi Minister of planning and not from the Census Bureau.”

He added: “These figures have been calculated based on old methods used by the former regime, rather than scientific methods that take into account likely demographic growth.”