Iraq's Kirkuk council throws support behind region poll

Council announces decision at session boycotted by Turkmen, Arab members

Iraq's Kirkuk council throws support behind region poll

World Bulletin / News Desk

In a session boycotted by Turkmen and Arab members, Kirkuk’s provincial council on Tuesday announced its decision to take part in an upcoming referendum -- slated for Sept. 25 -- on Kurdish regional independence.

According to Ali Mehdi, a Turkmen council member who boycotted the vote, only 24 council members attended Tuesday’s council session.

“The council’s decision will now be referred to Iraq’s constitutional and administrative courts,” Mehdi said.

Kirkuk’s provincial council consists of 41 members: 26 Kurds, nine Turkmen and six Arabs.

-‘Unconstitutional’

Speaking at a press conference, Hasan Turan, a Turkmen lawmaker and vice-president of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, blasted the council’s decision, describing it as “unconstitutional”.

“Kurdish council members took this decision unilaterally, which violates Iraq’s constitution,” Turan said, calling for the intervention of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and President Fuad Masum.

“The notion of holding a referendum in Kirkuk lacks legitimacy,” he added. “We [Turkmen] will take all legal steps to challenge this decision.”

Turan went on to say that -- if it is held -- Turkmen would likely boycott the poll, which they fear could lead to the region’s further destabilization.

-‘Special status’

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Kurdish Peshmerga forces seized the city and province of Kirkuk, leading to an influx of Kurds into the area.

Article 140 of Iraq’s 2005 constitution calls for the return to Kirkuk of residents forced to leave the city in the Saddam Hussein era.

Afterwards, according to the national charter, a census is to be conducted throughout the province before a referendum is held to determine Kirkuk’s status vis-à-vis Iraq’s central government.

Article 140, however, has never been implemented due to ongoing differences between Baghdad and Erbil, the Kurdish region’s administrative capital.

While Baghdad says Kirkuk is “administratively dependent” on Iraq’s central government, many Kurds -- including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which dominates political life in the province -- demands Kirkuk’s incorporation into the Kurdish region.

Kirkuk’s Turkmen, for their part, oppose the notion of annexation, insisting that the ethnically-diverse province enjoys a “special status”.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ağustos 2017, 12:00
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