Kurdish parties consider united front in
Supporters of Kurdish candidates drive on the streets
of Kirkuk during Parliamentary elections. Photo
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March 8, 2012
KIRKUK, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region,
— Kurdish political parties from the Kurdistan
Region appear to have reached a consensus to run in
a united bloc in the future elections in Kirkuk.
Factional divisions among Kurdish parties in the
past has rendered thousands of Kurdish votes
Rebwar Sayid Gul, the head of the Kirkuk branch of
the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) says the idea of
the joint bloc was first proposed by his party.
The KIU is Kurdistan’s largest Islamic party and the
second biggest opposition group in the Kurdistan
Thirteen Kurdish parties are holding talks to study
the possibility of entering the elections as a
Islamic and secular parties seem to be on board for
a joint plan thanks to their concern about the loss
of a considerable number of votes among Kurdish
residents of the multiethnic province. A multi-party
meeting was held on the topic this week.
Abdulqadir Muhammad, the head of the Kirkuk office
of the Change Movement (Gorran), Kurdistan’s largest
opposition group, said there has been no agreement
yet on the creation of a joint list but talks
continue toward that end.
During Iraq’s Parliamentary elections in 2006,
Kurdish parties gained only half of the votes with
the other half going to Arab and Turcoman groups.
Rawand Mala Mahmoud, the deputy head of the local
branch of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
rejected claims that the idea of a joint bloc is the
brainchild of the Islamic Union.
The PUK under Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq,
is one of the two ruling parties in Kurdistan.
“All parties want that and let no one party take
credit for the idea,” said Mahmoud. “We will have
one slate and will later devise a mechanism to
determine the results and names of winners.”
Kurds consider Kirkuk part of their historical
homeland and seek to annex it to the autonomous
Political and security tension is often the main
feature of the province as Kurdish, Arab and
Turcoman parties hold different views on the future
of the province.
Iraq’s constitution stipulates that a referendum is
held whereby Kirkuk’s residents can determine
whether they want to join the Kurdistan or stay with
This move by Kurdish parties to create a join
electoral slate has been received positively by the
Ali Shwani, 34, a Kurdish resident of Kirkuk says,
“Kirkuk is not like Erbil and Sulaimani so they can
fight as they like and then let the Arab parties
Erbil and Sulaimani are the two major cities of
Iraqi Kurdistan and the power centers of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK
respectively. The KDP is the major ruling party in
During the 2010 parliamentary elections, Kurdistan
Region’s opposition groups ran separately, but
failed to win any seats in Iraq’s Parliament.
The PUK and KDP won the province’s six seats.
“We have received the message of Kirkuk’s resident
and we will follow it for sure,” said Rebwar Tofiq a
senior KDP official in the province, referring to
the demand for one Kurdish bloc in elections.
“We as the KDP prefer (all Kurdish parties) to be
together in all of Kirkuk’s elections and not only
the provincial one,” he added.
Tofiq said that nearly 70,000 Kurdish votes were
lost in the 2010 elections due to lack of unity
among Kurdish groups.
“We should not let that happen again,” he
Kurdish parties won more than 270,000 votes in
Kirkuk and the rival al-Iraqiya bloc of former Prime
Minister Ayad Alawi won 206,000 votes.
Ibrahim Saeed, 45, a Kurdish resident of Kirkuk
urged Kurds to stand united in the elections. If
Kurds are not united, Saeed believes, “Kirkuk will
get out of Kurdish hands.”
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the
regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
The Kurds are seeking to integrate the province into the semi-autonomous
Kurdistan Region clamming it to be historically a Kurdish city, it lies just
south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of
majority Kurds and minority of Arabs,www.ekurd.net Christians and Turkmen, lies 250 km
northeast of Baghdad. Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional
attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish
Jerusalem." Kurds see it as the rightful and
perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to
the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city
and other disputed areas through having back its
Kurdish inhabitants and repatriating the Arabs
relocated in the city during the former regime’s
time to their original provinces in central and
The article also calls for conducting a census to be
followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants
decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed
to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having
it as an independent province.
The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up
their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the
city and the region's oil industry.
The last ethnic-breakdown census in Iraq was
conducted in 1957, well before Saddam began his
program to move Arabs to Kirkuk. That count showed
178,000 Kurds, 48,000 Turkomen, 43,000 Arabs and
10,000 Assyrian-Chaldean Christians living in the
Rudaw part of this report by Govand Omer
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