ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish official on Saturday said the absence of the Iraqi flag during the ceremony to receive Jalal Talabani’s body was unintentional.
In a special ceremony on Friday, the body of Talabani, a Kurdish leader and former Iraqi president, arrived in Sulaimani from Berlin.
“Neither the President, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, nor the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were aware of the plan. The protocol team organized the entire process,” Mala Bakhtiyar, a PUK executive member, told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday.
“We didn’t want to interfere in the protocol’s affairs,” he said. “We left the entire ceremony process to them.”
He emphasized that the absence of the Iraqi flag was not intentional. “Now, there is both Kurdistan and Iraqi flags next to the tomb of Jalal Talabani, and they will be present at all of his funeral ceremonies.”
Bakhtiyar called on the local Iraqi media not to exaggerate the case, adding it should not be made into a big problem. “We hope these chauvinistic Arab media won’t take advantage of this case.”
Talabani died while receiving treatment at a hospital in the German capital of Berlin on Tuesday. He suffered a stroke in late 2012 which led to health issues the following years.
Talabani, who was also the Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was the sixth president of Iraq since the country was established in 1920.
He was also the first non-Arab politician elected to the position, serving in office from 2005 until 2014.
The Kurdish leader has stayed away from politics since late 2012, after his stroke, and regularly traveled to Germany to receive medical treatment.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany