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Tuz Khurmatu council ousts Kurdish mayor despite missing members

By Rudaw 10/1/2018
Tuz Khurmatu mayor, Shalal Abdul, was removed from office on January 10. File photo: Rudaw
Tuz Khurmatu mayor, Shalal Abdul, was removed from office on January 10. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shalal Abdul was ousted from office by a council vote in the absence of seven Kurdish and two Arab members of the district council on Wednesday. The mayor says he will appeal the decision in courts and calls it illegal, claiming the Kurdish councilmen were threatened not to attend.

“I will appeal the decision in the Saladin provincial council and the administrative court of Baghdad,” Abdul told Rudaw.

The district’s council removed Abdul from office despite the absence of the council’s Kurdish members.

“I am sure the decision will be revoked when I appeal it in the provincial council and in the court,” the Kurdish mayor said.

The council has 21 members. The city and district’s three ethnicities each have seven members. Just 12 members — 7 Turkmen and 5 Arabs — were present. Seven Kurdish members and two Arab members were not present.

He claimed that some council members were forced with the threat of weapons to attend the council meeting to obtain a legal quorum, thus making the vote null and void.

The multi-ethnic town of Khurmatu is in Saladin province and is about 155 kilometers south of the Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. Tuz is a disputed or Kurdistani area claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.

The Iraqi parliament voted to establish a multi-ethnic committee to investigate events that took place in Tuz Khurmatu after the city came under the control of Iraqi forced and by Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces (PMF) in October 2017.

A Rudaw field investigation on November 26 found that thousands of houses in Kurdish neighborhoods had been looted, burned and bombed, or appear to have been appropriated by the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi.

Thousands of Kurds from Tuz Khurmatu are sheltering in the Kurdistan Region, still unable to return to their homes.

The Kurdish parliament has dubbed the events “genocide.” Amnesty International has also confirmed that there was looting and violence committed against the Kurdish population. 

PM Nechirvan Barzani and other Kurdish officials have called for the situation of Khurmatu to be normalized.

A delegation of Kurds from Tuz Khurmatu accompanied by Aram Sheikh Mohammed, deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament, met with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Shiite Badr Organization on Friday. 

The Kurdish delegation was promised by Amiri to withdraw Hashd forces and allow the return of Kurds within a week.

Mohammed said Amiri asked the Kurdish delegation to hold on for a few days as an operation against a group of ISIS militants is underway in the area.

The security situation in the Tuz Khurmatu area remains volatile, as was evident when the city again came under mortar fire by unknown forces on Monday.

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