Iraqi President Fuad Masum. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The largest Shiite faction in the Iraqi parliament wants to see Fuad Masum, president of Iraq and a Kurd, expelled from his position for failing to take a stance against the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.
“One of the duties of the president, who has been sworn in, is to preserve the territorial integrity and the constitution of Iraq,” said Mohammed Sahiud, a MP from the State of Law faction, the largest bloc within the parliament’s Shiite coalition. “The Iraqi president has not expressed any stance on the referendum, which is going to be implemented by Masoud Barzani, therefore many MPs have collected signatures to dismiss the president from his post.”
The move comes after the Iraqi parliament on Thursday voted to remove the governor of Kirkuk
, Najmaldin Karim, from his post.
Sunnis are against removing Masum, arguing against an action that they say would deepen problems between Iraqis.
“We are against making the problem bigger and against having problems between Iraq’s components including Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs,” said Raad Dahlaki, a Sunni MP in Baghdad.
Kurds see the Shiite effort as a bid to further push Kurds away from the central government.
“They are forcefully wanting to push us towards separation,” argued Abdul Aziz Hassan, a Kurdish MP. “We are defending all the rights of the Kurdistan people.”
Hassan added “the president’s post is a Kurdish post and one of the three leading positions.”
Positions in the Iraqi government are divided by a quota system.
The State of Law faction, headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who still wields immense power, has targeted Kurdish posts in Baghdad. They masterminded a motion in the Iraqi parliament to withdraw confidence from former finance minister Hoshyar Zebari in September last year, accusing him of mismanaging the country's finances.
There are 328 seats in the Iraqi parliament. According to the constitution, 160 signatures are required to strip the president of his post. At time of writing, the State of Law had collected more than 110 signatures.
The position of the Iraqi president has held by a Kurd from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) since 2005. PUK leader Jalal Talabani served as president from 2005 to 2014 and Masum from 2014 to the present.
As the referendum date of September 25 nears, tensions have risen and comments have been made against the move in Baghdad, neighboring countries, and the world.
On Thursday, Turkey warned that the Kurdistan Region will pay a “price” if it persists in holding the referendum on independence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that the Kurds will “lose” all the achievements they secured since the US-led Iraqi invasion of Iraq in 2003 if the vote goes ahead.
The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday rejected the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in a vote that also authorized the Prime Minister Abadi to take measures against the Kurdish move.
Barzani called on the Iraqi parliament to reconsider its decision as they cannot break the will of the people of Kurdistan. He made his comments on Wednesday evening at a campaign event in the city of Akre in Duhok province.