Kirkuk council rejects Baghdad demand to remove Kurdish flag, asks for referendum to join Kurdistan region


Kurdish flag. File photo

ARA News

The Kirkuk’s Provincial Council on Tuesday stressed its refusal to take down the Kurdistan flag in Kirkuk city, and also asked the Iraqi Parliament to hold a referendum in Kirkuk in order to join the Kurdistan Region.

“They voted to implement article 140 from Iraq’s constitution and to hold a referendum on Kirkuk’s future. The voting won’t change the status of the province,” a former official from Kirkuk said.

“Also this voting is to pressure Kurdistan Region of Iraq to include Kirkuk and disputed territories into the independence referendum if they hold it,” he said. “Important to notice that the provincial council didn’t decide but demanded. It’s two different things.”

The referendum was initially planned for November 2007, but implementing the referendum was postponed and some suggest now Article 140 is expired.

According to Article 140 of the Constitution of Iraq a referendum should be held in the disputed territories on whether they belong to the Kurdistan Region or Iraq.

The Kirkuk Provincial Council had accused Baghdad of ignoring the commitment to article 140 for years.

After ISIS drove out the Iraqi army from large parts of Iraq, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces secured Kirkuk and areas around it in order to prevent advances by ISIS.

Last week, the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted for officially raising the flag of Kurdistan after a request of Kirkuk Governor Najmadeen Karem.

“Kirkuk is important because of the historical dimension and the fact that Kurds have fought for it for a long time,” Kurdish affairs analyst Mohammed Salih told ARA News.

“It’s home to a large Kurdish population … And it’s obviously important because of its large energy resources too,” he added.

So far, Baghdad, Iran, and Turkey have condemned the move by the Kurds.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on Iraqi Kurds to remove the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk or pay a heavy price.

“I certainly find it wrong to raise a second flag next to the Iraqi national flag in Kirkuk. The owners of this flag should know better than to engage in separatism. I call on the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government: Correct this mistake,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak on April 4.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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