The disputed province of Kirkuk voted to take part in the Kurdistan independence referendum on September 25. Photo: Rudaw video
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan’s election commission has opened offices in disputed areas in advance of the independence referendum to be held later this month, including in Kirkuk after the commission approved the request submitted by Kirkuk’s Provincial Council to include the province in the vote.
“We officially responded to them, informing them that the commission will be making all preparations to ensure the referendum is held on September 25. We have opened two offices – one in Shingal, the other in the city of Kirkuk,” commission head Handren Mohammed told Rudaw.
In an August 29 meeting, a majority of Kirkuk’s provincial council voted to participate in the referendum, led by the mainly Kurdish Brotherhood faction joined by Turkmen, Arab, and Christian members. Other Turkmen and Arab factions did not support the move and the Turkmen Front has called for a boycott of the referendum.
The head of the council said they would support the referendum process.
“We will be observing the process as a whole because we are a monitoring establishment. We finished the voting process and will be trying with Kirkuk’s administration to provide financial assistance if need be. We will be doing all we can to ensure this process is a success,” said council president Rebwar Talabani.
The governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, has said he is sure the ‘yes’ vote will dominate on September 25.
According to the election committee, 285 voting stations will be set up in Kirkuk, including 30 based in camps. Nearly 700,000 people will be eligible to vote in the process. Kirkuk is hosting many displaced persons from other so-called disputed areas that are still either under ISIS control or not yet secure for people to return to.
The referendum will be held in the Kurdistan Region’s four provinces and Kurdistani areas outside of the regional government’s control where the local authorities request to be included. According to the commission’s figures, nearly 3,650,000 people in the Kurdistani areas are eligible to vote.