Rebwar Talabani was one of the driving force behind the decision to raise the flag of Kurdistan over state buildings, and the decision to join the Kurdish vote on independence. File photo: Talabani Facebook account
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A Kurdish party has stated they will replace the acting head of Kirkuk Provincial Council, their party member Rebwar Talabani, because the current situation does not allow him to carry out his duties.
Talabani from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) has been the acting head since 2014. He took up the post when former council chief Hasan Turan, who is Turkmen, ran for Iraqi elections in 2014.
Talabani and deposed Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim were the driving forces behind the council’s decision to raise the Kurdistan flag in the city in March and then to join the September referendum on independence, both of which were opposed by the Iraqi government.
The Turkmen Front filed a court case against Talabani over the decision to fly the Kurdistan flag. His lawyers have attended at least one court session in Baghdad.
Talabani has not returned to Kirkuk after fleeing the city when Iraqi forces moved in on October 16, saying that he will not do so until the situation returned to what it was before the Iraqi take over. He has also insisted that the Kurdistan flag be raised again, as per the council decision.
Iraqi forces removed the Kurdistan flags from state buildings in October. Kurdish parties have also been banned from raising the flag at their offices.
Jwan Hassan is the KIU’s nominee to replace him, said party spokesperson Hadi Ali.
The council has held at least two symbolic sessions since the October events. Members decided that until a new chief is elected, the eldest member will preside, and that sessions must be held inside Kirkuk, after some Kurdish factions wanted the body to convene elsewhere in the Kurdistan Region.
Jamal Mawlood, from the PUK, is the oldest member.
According to a Kurdish-brokered power sharing system in Kirkuk that has been in place for over a decade, Kurds will pick the governor, head of the council is reserved for Turkmen, and Arabs select the deputy governor.
Turkmen parties have so far failed to agree on a single candidate to head the council.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed Rakan Saeed al-Jabouri, an Arab, as acting governor in mid-October when his forces drove out the Peshmerga after the referendum.
Al-Jabouri is the first Arab governor of Kirkuk since 2003.
Deposed Governor Karim is from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The party has so far failed to convince fellow Kurdish parties, especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), to vote for the PUK’s replacement candidate for governor, Rizgar Ali.
Iraqi President Fuad Masum, a Kurd from the PUK, visiting the province last week for the first time since it fell to Iraqi forces, urged Kirkuk officials to elect a new governor.