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Cablegate: Koya's Mayor Shortchanged by Krg's Incomplete Government

VZCZCXRO1113
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1017 0931214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021214Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6610
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 001017

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER IZ
SUBJECT: Koya's Mayor Shortchanged by KRG's Incomplete Government
Unification

1. (SBU) Koya's Mayor, Kurda Omar, told RRTOffs March 31 that her
district had received only $2 million in Provincial Reconstruction
Funds from Erbil since 2006. Omar explained that Koya district had
shifted administratively from Sulaymaniah province to Erbil province
in 2006 as a result of the Unification Agreement, which united the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP) governments, except for the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) Ministries of Finance, Interior, and Peshmerga Affairs. Omar
said that the Sulaymaniah Ministry of Finance continued to pay
salaries for Koya public servants, but that no project funding had
been provided. She said she raised her concerns with the Erbil
Governor in December 2007, and in January and March 2008, yet the
Governor repeatedly told her that he had not been given "official
notification" from the KRG's Council of Ministers to provide funding
for Koya. Omar sent a letter December 9 to the KRG Council of
Ministers; she has not received a reply to date.

2. (U) Koya's population is approximately 120,000 (Erbil province
total population is approx. 1.3 million) with 134 villages and
30,000 students. Koya district originally was part of Kirkuk
Province before Saddam-era boundary changes and then shifted to
Erbil Province. During the PUK and KDP fighting in the 1990s, it
came under control of Sulaymaniah. Koya district remains a PUK
stronghold and is the birthplace of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
400 Muslim and 80 Christian families have taken refuge in Koya since
2005; only the Christian families received apartments, provided
directly by the President of Iraq. In addition, there are 1,200
Iranian Kurds who live in Koya district. Primary economic
activities are farming and agricultural activities. Omar expressed
concern over the limited rainfall received this year, and the
potential impact on the region's farmers.

3. (SBU) Comment: Koya district appears to be suffering from the
continued inability of the PUK and KDP to complete the merging of
the Finance, Interior, and Peshmerga Affairs ministries. The
situation is exacerbated by inaction on the part of KRG's Council of
Ministers to officially inform the Erbil Governor that he's now
responsible for Koya, which may simply be a handy excuse by the
Governor to avoid paying for Koya. That said, Omar noted that her
relationship with the Governor is good, and she does not believe
that the lack of funds for Koya is due to party machinations (Erbil
is mostly KDP, while Koya is PUK territory). The situation in Koya
is an example of the continued negative impact of the PUK and KDP's
failure to resolve their differences. In an attempt to encourage
reform, the Kurdistan National Assembly recently said it will refuse
to approve the 2008 budget until the three ministries are merged.
Increased pressure on the two parties to step up to their
responsibilities in the KRG could lead to increased development and
economic growth in the region. End Comment.

CROCKER

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