Kurdistan flag raised in Kirkuk castle on the eve of the Kurdish New Year, Newroz. Photo: Rudaw/file
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kirkuk governor demanded the people of Kirkuk to not have a reaction against those making "provocative" comments as there are groups trying to sabotage the independence referendum process.
“We are calling on all the people of Kirkuk not to get provoked at all by bad words or someone holding a slogan saying the referendum should not to be held. Do not get provoked with this because there are people wanting this process not to succeed,” said Najmaldin Karim.
Karim said there are gatherings being held for Turkmen in some places and for Arabs in others, “and we know they have not done anything neither for Arabs nor Turkmen, not even for protecting them.”
He said the city’s parties, including security forces, political parties and the people of the city are ready to protect the city when there is a possible “threat.”
“Therefore we are calling on the people not to react to something which will result in rivalries and displeasure at all” he said.
He went on to add those wanting for the referendum not to succeed are waiting for “reactions” to seize the opportunity and destabilize the situation.
“Again, never let yourself be provoked,” He urged.
Karim added that the referendum is just to ask" the opinion of the Kirkuk people about what they want for Kurdistan.”
Karim added “on the 25th of this month, this process will be held and people will go to the polling ballots and there are lots of people eagerly supporting it."
Karim’s comments comes a day after President Masoud Barzani and his deputy Kosrat Rasul Ali visited the multi-ethnic city, gathering with the city’s groups ahead of the historic move in which Kirkuk is part of the vote.
As September 25 nears, the day the Kurdistan Region and disputed or Kurdistani areas claim by both Baghdad and Erbil will cast vote for an independence referendum, tensions and inflammatory comments rise from parties standing against the move, most notably the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary and officials from Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that the Kurds will “lose” all their achievements they secured since the US-led Iraqi invasion of Iraq in 2003 if the vote goes ahead.
On Tuesday, the Diyala Provincial Council voted against holding the referendum in the province where some of the areas called Kurdistani by Erbil contains including Mandali, Jalawla, Saadia, Tuz Khurmatu and Khanaqeen.
As part of events on Tuesday, the Iraqi parliament rejected the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in a vote that also authorized the Prime Minister Abadi to take measures against the Kurdish move.
Barzani said Wednesday evening in the city of Akre in Duhok that he calls on the Iraqi parliament to reconsider their decision as they cannot break the will of the people of Kurdistan.
Earlier this week, the Hashd al-Shaabi had called for a meeting of the Mandali Town Council and forced a vote cancelling an earlier vote by the council to join the Kurdistan independence referendum and remove the mayor on Tuesday.
A number of Arab tribes and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, a Hashd al-Shaabi group, stormed the town hall on Sunday and removed the Kurdistan flag.