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Kurdish Officials Outline Security Plans

By Rebaz Mahmood in Sulaimaniyah (ICR No. 99, 25-Jan-05)

Major General Ahmad Musa, the Kurdish region’s deputy interior minister, said on January 23 that people would not be allowed to drive by car between towns within the Kurdish region, which comprises Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaimaniyah provinces, or to other parts of Iraq, from January 27 until election day. Traffic within the Kurdish region will be banned for a further 24 hours during the polls on January 30, although it has yet to be announced when that restriction will end.

A special committee within the interior ministry will oversee the extra measures. “During the election period, our ministry will be following a special plan and will place the internal security forces, the police, the interior defence battalion and the emergency call centres on high alert,” said Musa.

Interior Minister Othman Haji Mahmood advised residents of Kurdistan to remain in the towns where they are registered to vote, in case the movement ban makes it hard to travel to polling stations.

The Sulaimaniyah administration, under the Kurdistan government, is controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which runs this part of Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Democratic Party, based in Arbil, controls western areas, but the security measures announced by the interior ministry apply to the whole Kurdish region.

The steps taken by the Kurdish authorities mirror or complement the Iraqi interior ministry’s January 22 announcement of a range of security measures including road travel restrictions, a three-day holiday, and the closure of Baghdad’s international airport.

Rebaz Mahmood is an IWPR trainee journalist in Iraq.

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