Riyaz Sarikahya, the head of the Turkmeneli Party, speaks about the governorship of Kirkuk in January 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Turkmeneli Party in Kirkuk told the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that they will agree to normalize the political situation in Kirkuk only when the position of governor is shared among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens on a biyearly basis.
“We, as Turkmen parties, told them that the governor position should be given to each ethnic group for two years. Also there should be joint administration — 32 percent for each group,” said Riyaz Sarikahya the head of Turkmeneli Party.
His comments to Rudaw came after receiving a PUK delegation focused on returning the situation in Kirkuk to normalcy.
He added that the purpose of the PUK’s visit was to “gain Turkmen support to appoint a governor from the PUK.”
The PUK recently have increased efforts to regain the post of governor of oil-rich Kirkuk. The Iraqi government, supported by Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries, took control of most disputed areas in October 2017.
It was previously administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government with Kurdish security (Asayesh) and the Peshmerga in 2014 through the ISIS conflict.
They have formed a joint committee with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and launched talks with other political parties in Kirkuk including meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
The 32-percent formula was introduced by Jalal Talabani, the late founder of the PUK, when he was president of Iraq.
Kirkuk’s Arabs have refused the PUK project for the governor, but “our views are not very different,” according to Hatem al-Tai, a spokesperson for the Arab Coalition in the province.
He added that they are optimistic about their talks with the PUK.
According to the Iraqi constitution, the Kirkuk Provincial Council is the only entity capable of selecting a governor. However in a move by former Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi that was widely criticized, former PUK Governor Najmaldin Karim was removed from his post following the federal takeover.
Rakan Saeed al-Jabouri, a Sunni Arab, was then appointed governor by Abadi.
The Kurdish Brotherhood Alliance — comprised of predominately KDP, PUK, and Kurditan Islamic Union (KIU) politicians — has a majority on the provincial council. Recent fractures have weakened the group.
Kirkuk has participated in just one provincial election since the new Iraq was established. In last year’s parliamentary election, the PUK won six seats, Arab parties three, Turkmen parties three, and Christians took their minority quota seat.
The province is historically a PUK stronghold. The KDP chose not to campaign in what it considers to be an “occupied” province.
With reporting by Hardi Mohammed