( Gulfnews ) - Baghdad: The process of paying compensation for Arabs to leave Kirkuk and settle in other places has started, the governor of the troubled Iraqi province said.
Abdul Rahman Mustafa, Governor of Kirkuk , told Gulf News: "The compensation process has already begun and every Arab who wishes to leave Kirkuk is being paid about 20 million Iraqi dinars ($16,000, Dh58 ,848 ). The compensation has been approved by the Committee for Normalising Situation in Kirkuk .
"The process is transparent and without any external pressure, and this first phase to implement Article 140 it will be followed by the census and referendum processes to determine Kirkuk's fate," he said.
According to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, compensations will be paid to Shiite and Sunni Arab residents of the province to facilitate their return to native provinces.
Kirkuk is facing a struggle for its identity between Kurds on one side and Arabs and Turkmen from the other. Thousands of Kurds were displaced from the province during Saddam Hussain's regime.
Mohammad Arslan , a member of the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk , told Gulf News: "The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party are trying to change the province's demography by forcing Arabs and Turkmen to leave Kirkuk . I think people are being forced to accept compensations ... this will lead to confrontation."