UPDATE: North Oil Co. leader replacement by deputy draws criticism

Workers say the popular Manna al-Obeidi should be replaced by someone born in Kirkuk, though the ministry claims his deputy is the right man for the job. Both are beyond the mandatory retirement age.

KIRKUK, IRAQ - Manna al-Obeidi, born in 1943, has been retired from his post as director general of the North Oil Company, the state oil production firm responsible for a quarter of Iraq's oil output.

The move has angered workers, including those in leadership of the unions, who say Obeidi's replacement should be originally from the northern city of Kirkuk, raising the specter the region's sectarian problems flowing further into the oil sector.

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