The main bazaar in Kirkuk during the parliamentary election in May 2019. Photo: Rakan al-Jabouri FB
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — As the Monday deadline for Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary session fast approaches Kurdish parties are still in disagreement over which issue should take priority: Kirkuk or the formation of a new government in Erbil.
Rawand Mahmoud, the deputy head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) office in Kirkuk, believes the problems come in one package and should not be separated.
“The PUK believes the cases are connected together in Baghdad, Erbil and Kirkuk and that’s why we want to solve them all together,” Mahmoud told Rudaw.
He dismissed the idea that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was causing a delay in negotiations and a meeting of the Kurdistan’s parliament by five months since the elections by tying the issue of the Kirkuk’s governorship to the politics of Erbil.
“We are not mixing them, it is all one package and it’s a Kurdish issue that should be addressed together,” he said.
Mahmoud said the PUK is “the dominant force” in Kirkuk and is “pursuing its own policies based on its achievements.”
The PUK won 6 seats in Kirkuk in Iraq’s parliamentary election in May. Arab parties took three seats, Turkmen three, and Christians their single minority quota seat.
“It’s our right to be in this race and this does not mean we’re creating obstacles.” Mahmoud said.
Party leaders agreed last week that parliament meets for the first time on Monday.
But Mahmoud says that for Kirkuk, Kurdish parties should take the same priority as forming a government in Erbil.
“We believe if we reactivate the provincial council and choose a governor 70 percent of the problems in Kirkuk would be solved,” he stressed. “We could also then ask Iraq to pull out its military presence.”
Others see the decision to hold the first parliamentary session as a step in the right direction regardless of the state of affairs in Kirkuk.
We hope that all sides would be honest with themselves,” Ismail Skary, an MP of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) told Rudaw.
“We proposed that the parliament meets soon because it’s been a long time since the election,” he added. “We will certainly attend the session because it was our own call in the first place.”
Osman Kani Kurdayi, an Islamic League (Komal) MP echoed Skary’s sentiment, saying: “After a long wait we as Komal have decided to attend with enthusiasm in the parliamentary session because of the fatefulness of the issue.”
“We are even ashamed before our people for how long we have waited,” Kurdayi added.
Nawzad Salman, a resident of Kirkuk, believes that one problem solved would help the next.
“People should not be kept waiting,” he said. “A government should be formed first then we will talk about Kirkuk.”
Rebin Sabah, a civil activist disagrees.
“First a governor should be elected so the situation clears in Kirkuk later the KRG could be formed by any two parties.” he said.
Reporting by Hiwa Jamal