ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) nominated a new member to be head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) to replace Rebwar Talabani who had to flee Kirkuk following the military takeover by Iraqi forces on Oct. 16.
Rebwar Talabani has been the acting head of the KPC since 2014. Talabani was one of the Kurdish members of the KPC who strongly pushed for the Kurdistan national flag to be raised alongside the Iraqi flag on all public administrative buildings in Kirkuk “until the future of Kirkuk is determined,” a decision that was approved by majority vote in March 2017.
He was also a staunch supporter of including Kirkuk in the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence held on Sep. 25.
Following the attack and takeover of Kirkuk on Oct. 16 by Iraqi Forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, more than half of the KPC’s members along with 170,000 civilians were displaced to cities in the Kurdistan Region, including Talabani and the ousted Governor, Najmaldin Karim.
Due to security concerns and threats, many KPC members have refused to return to Kirkuk and hold council meetings. “We don’t want to return to Kirkuk and make decisions imposed on us by force,” Talabani previously told Kurdistan 24.
The KPC has not been able to convene any meetings since the takeover of Kirkuk as it requires 21 of its 41 members present to obtain a quorum.
In its statement, a member of the KIU, Hadi Ali, stated that his party wants to help to normalize the situation in Kirkuk and facilitate KPC meetings.
“The party thus believes it is better to appoint somebody else to replace Talabani,” who is also a member of the KIU.
Ali mentioned that since Talabani cannot return to Kirkuk, the party has nominated Jwan Hassan, a member of the KPC, to fill Talabani’s position.
Hassan needs 21 votes in the KPC to replace Talabani. So far, the date of the meeting has not yet been set.
Kirkuk is an oil-rich province located in the south of the Kurdistan Region and north of Iraq. It is a multi-ethnic province with a diverse religious background made up of Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians. Kurds account for the majority of the population.
Editing by Nadia Riva