Kurdistan flag flying on the Kirkuk castle. Photo: Rudaw video
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - Kurdish political parties are planning to form a committee in Kirkuk to make preparations for the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum, marking the first practical step taken in the city towards the move.
"The formation of [referendum] committees’ branches is within the authorities of the High Referendum Council and I believe they will be formed in other cities soon, too," Salah Dalo, the KDP's top official in the city, told Rudaw.
He insisted that "Kirkuk will not be separated from other cities and the referendum will be held in it on time," Dalo said.
Rudaw has learnt that before the committee is formed, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has planned to meet with parties that have showed opposition to the process.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and almost all political parties in the Region announced on June 7 plans to hold the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence this fall.
The date of September 25 “was set for holding referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Kurdistani areas outside the region's administration.”
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) — three of the five largest parties in the Region — have not yet appointed a representative to the referendum committee.
For its role, PUK, which has a stronghold in Kirkuk, has urged meetings between the political parties and the reactivation of the now-paralyzed parliament.
"So far no committee has been formed on this subject in Kirkuk. And even if it is formed, a meeting has to be held and the parliament reactivated beforehand," Rawand Mala Mahmood, deputy head of PUK office in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.
Mahmood said even during his party’s latest high-level meeting last week they re-iterated the reactivation of the parliament prior to the referendum.
He added that it was only a few days ago when it was decided to also form a referendum preparations committee in Kirkuk.
The referendum preparation committee has designated its branches in the cities, but they have not started work yet, said a member of the committee, warning time was getting late.
"Technically, some work have been done in Kirkuk," to form the committee, said Abu Karwan member of the referendum committee from the Kurdistan Communist Party. "But the committee there has not started working."
Among the high-level referendum committee visiting Europe last week was Najmaldin Karim, the Kirkuk governor. He is also a senior member of the PUK.