Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim [L] and Rebwar Talabani [M] take part in a session of the Kirkuk Provincial Council that voted to join the Independence referendum vote on August 29, 2017. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) announced on Tuesday that they unanimously rejected a ruling by the Iraqi parliament to remove Najmaldin Karim, the Kirkuk governor from his post, saying the decision was “political.”
Rebwar Talabani, head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council in a press conference slammed “the dismissal of Mr. Governor without resorting to the constitution or law. They removed him by a political decision.”
He said the Kirkuk Provincial Council, therefore “through a unanimous vote rejected the decision because it is political and not administrative.”
Kirkuk, unlike the rest of Iraq, has held only one provincial election in 2005 since the US-led invasion about 14 years ago. The election law therefore that regulates the work of the rest of the Iraqi provinces does not apply to Kirkuk.
He added “the person who could appoint the governor could remove him, too. And he could be removed when there is evidence filed against him by courts and people or any party.”
The decision to remove the governor is vested with the KPC.
Talabani added Baghdad antagonizes Kirkuk, explaining that four other Iraqi provinces face various charges, but the Iraqi government has not taken any steps to question or arrest individuals in them. He, however, did not name the other provinces.
Ahmad Askari, the head of the Kurdish Brotherhood faction in Kirkuk Provincial Council, said they rejected the parliament ruling and that will appeal it in Iraq Federal Court “because the Kirkuk Provincial Council’s rights have been violated.”
Following his removal decision
by the parliament Karim’s office issued a statement saying the law that regulated the work of the current provincial council in Kirkuk gives the right to replace or remove the governor “solely to the Provincial Council” in Kirkuk.
The Iraqi parliament over the weekend voted by a majority to remove Karim after the local government in the province decided to join the Kurdish referendum, scheduled for Monday.
The Kurdish presidency and the office of the governor have said they do not abide by the vote calling it illegal and in violation of the Iraqi constitution.
Karim described the vote as an “illegal decision.” He explained that the law for the Iraqi provincial election passed in 2008 stipulated that Kirkuk, unlike the rest of the Iraqi provinces, would not come under the authority of the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister. He therefore said that the Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi did not have the right to send his name to the parliament to table a vote of confidence.
Karim said he will keep his post, adding he has received phone calls from Kurdish officials such as President Barzani who offered their support.
He said he has the full backing of his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, his party’s office in the province, and all Kurdish parties. He added that he will keep his position despite the vote.
“We remain in our place, we are doing our work, and we are doing preparation for the referendum.” the defiant governor said.
The US Special Presidential Envoy to the Global anti-ISIS Coalition has described the decision by Iraqi parliament to remove the Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim as “wrong
" and one that should have never happened in the first place, Karim claimed Brett McGurk told him in a phone call.
US officials did not confirm or deny the alleged call.
President Masoud Barzani slammed the Iraqi parliament’s Thursday vote as he delivered a speech to a crowd of thousands of people last week.