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 Kurdish parties consider united front in Kirkuk elections

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Kurdish parties consider united front in Kirkuk elections  8.3.2012  








Supporters of Kurdish candidates drive on the streets of Kirkuk during Parliamentary elections. Photo Rudaw See Related Links
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 ineffective.

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 parliament.

Thirteen Kurdish parties are holding talks to study the possibility of entering the elections as a united front.

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 Kurdistan Region.

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 Iraq.

This move by Kurdish parties to create a join electoral slate has been received positively by the province’s Kurds.

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 win.”

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 Kurdistan.

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 maintained.

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 southern Iraq.

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 city. 

Rudaw part of this report by Govand Omer

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, aknews.com | ekurd.net

 


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