President of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) Arshad Salihi (R) gives a speech in Kirkuk to supporters against the referendum on independence for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on the eve of voting on September 24, 2017. AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - A Turkmen official in Erbil claimed on Sunday he was dismissed from his party on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.
Azad Koorachi, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front’s (ITF) Erbil office told Rudaw that his "dismissal" from the party came after he voiced support for the process and voted ‘Yes’ for an independent Kurdistani state.
“I was expelled from the Turkmen Front by an order from Arshad Salihi, the head of the Turkmen Front,” Koorachi told Rudaw, saying “the dismissal was associated with me voting Yes in the Kurdistan independence referendum.”
Koorachi, who is also deputy head of the Erbil Provincial Council, went on to add in the letter he received “it was written that I was fired from the party on September 20. But this is fake since the letter was issued after the referendum was held and that I received my dismissal order on September 28.”
He, who was head of the party’s Erbil office for six years, added he used to ask his party to follow a certain policy meeting the demands of the Turkmen people in Kurdistan.
“But they did not listen to me and my different points of view were a factor for expelling me from the party,” he added.
However, Aidn Marouf, another official of the party dismissed claims that Koorachi’s dismissal was related to his different point of view on the referendum.
“The dismissal of [Koorachi] has nothing to do with the referendum, but connected to an internal matter of our party,” he said.
The ITF was one of the parties in Iraq strongly opposing the Kurdistan Region’s referendum to be held, particularly in the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic city where a sizable number of Turkmen live.
The ITF is the main Turkmen party in Iraq with MPs in the Iraqi parliament. It also has a strong presence in Turkmen areas, such as Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.