Khanaqin is a Kurdish city locate in the disputed or Kurdistani areas. It was originally part of Kirkuk province but was then incorporated into Diyala province as during the then Iraqi-led process of Arabization. Photo: Rudaw/Sartip Othman
KHANAQIN, Kurdistan Region – The local council of the Kurdish city of Khanaqin has decided in a unanimous vote to take part in the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum to be held on September 25.
The southernmost border city of Khanaqin, some 400 km southeast of Erbil, is part of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.
Samir Nur Mohammed, the head of the city council, told reporters Wednesday that they voted for the motion in an emergency meeting, adding that the council took the same decision in 2006.
“The Council of Khanaqin, as a component or as a representative of the components of Khanaqin and its people have today in an emergency session — it convened for an emergency session, for two demands: first that Khanaqin to take part in the referendum that will take place for the independence of Kurdistan,” Mohammed said, adding that they also asked for ballot boxes in their areas.
He said that they will now send the official demand to the Kurdish presidency and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Rozh Nuri Shaweys, the head of the Kurdistani delegation which is in Baghdad this week to discuss the referendum, reiterated that the disputed areas would take part in the referendum if elected bodies in those areas asked Erbil to do so.
The Governor of Kirkuk, which is a disputed province with large oil reserves, has said that they are ready for the referendum.
Baghdad considers the referendum as unilateral and unconstitutional, and has said it will not recognize the result.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution concerns the disputed areas which should have been settled via a referendum at the latest in 2007. But it was never implemented. Nearly all disputed areas are under the control of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Kurdistan’s election body stated on August 10 that they will open offices in Mosul and Kirkuk in preparation for next month’s independence referendum.
Jutyar Adil, a member of the Kurdistan Region’s elections commission, said that they will have ballot boxes in every place where the Kurdish Peshmerga are.
He said the election body also has decided to open a secondary office in Kalar to monitor areas such as Tuz Khurmatu and Khanaqin.
Khanaqin, located in the Garmaser region, was previously part of Kirkuk province, but it was annexed to Diyala province after the Arabization process began by ousted dictator Saddam Hussein. It was the only place that recovered quickly from this process after Saddam's fall in 2003.