KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - A major rally to support the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum is being held at Kirkuk’s citadel on Tuesday with VP Kosrat Rasul and Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim delivering reassuring messages to the crowds.
Kosrat Rasul, the vice president of the Kurdistan Region, addressed the ralliers, saying that Peshmerga have protected the people of Kirkuk without discrimination and will continue to do so.
The VP re-iterated the position of other leaders that Kurdistan would accept an alternative for referendum but must have “international witnesses” not that of “locals.”
He said that they have to be “a factor of democracy” in Kirkuk and maintain good relations with other components in the city, including Arabs and Turkmen and Assyrians.
“Together, we have to protect the unity of our nation,” Rasul urged.
He described Kirkuk as “the city of harmony and brotherhood,” urging all parties to take part in the upcoming independence referendum in Kirkuk.
About a recent decision made by the Iraqi parliament upon a call from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to remove Karim, from his post as Kirkuk governor, Rasul said “we do not give any weight to the decisions made against Najmaldin Karim,” by Baghdad.
Rasul urged people of Kurdistan to vote in the referendum because Iraqi governments "have not implemented the demands of the Kurdistan people."
Karim, for his part, described the province as “the Jerusalem of Kurdistan, its heart, and it will remain as such.”
“September 25, is the date of the fate of Kurdistan people,” he said, adding that voting on September 25 proves to the world, once again, that this land belongs to Kurdistan.
He explained Peshmerga provide comfortable living for the city’s components.
Last updated at 12:18 p.m.