January 18, 2011 in Nation/World

Iraqi governor cuts Baghdad electricity

Qassim Abdul-Zahra Associated Press

BAGHDAD – A local governor in Iraq’s oil-rich north cut the electricity going to Baghdad from a power station in his province Monday because his own constituents have been left with little power this winter.

Tamim Gov. Abdul-Rahman Mustafa said residents in his province’s capital city of Kirkuk only have three hours of power each day. The failure of negotiations with Iraq’s Electricity Ministry to share the power generated at a plant in Taza, just south of Kirkuk, gave him little choice but to cut the electricity headed to Baghdad, he said.

“We have started to cut the megawatts generated by Taza station, and we will provide the Kirkuk people with it,” Mustafa told reporters.

He estimated it would take 25 hours to shut down the power supply to Baghdad. Neighborhoods in the capital, according to the ministry, get 12 hours of electricity a day.

A Kirkuk councilman, Ahmed Askari, said local residents were threatening to launch their own protests “if the Kirkuk local government did not provide enough electricity to the people.”

The area around Kirkuk receives about 4 percent of the power provided by the national grid. Officials say Iraq has more power available now than ever, but it has been stretched thin by Iraqis buying more televisions, air conditioners and other appliances that weren’t available when former president Saddam Hussein was in power.

In another struggle between local and central government authorities Monday, officials in Iraq’s southern Basra province fired the city’s police chief over a jailbreak Friday by 12 al-Qaida suspects who escaped from a detention center by wearing police uniforms.

But the chief, Maj. Gen. Adel Daham, refused to step down, saying he could only be replaced by order of the prime minister.

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