KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim on Thursday said the Iraqi Parliament's decision to dismiss him is "illegal," saying he will continue in his post as Governor and extend support to the upcoming referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
The Parliament of Iraq on Thursday, by majority vote, dismissed Karim as Governor of Kirkuk, a move the Kurdistan Region labeled "an escalation by Baghdad." The Kurdish Members of the Iraqi Parliament boycotted the vote.
The decision to sack him comes after the Kurdish Governor of Kirkuk and the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) voted to raise the Kurdistan flag over all of Kirkuk's public offices and to join the Sep. 25 referendum where the people of the Kurdistan Region will choose whether to remain part of Iraq or secede as a newly-established country.
During an interview with Kurdistan 24, Karim said that a 2008 Iraqi law clearly states that "the Prime Minister of Iraq has the authority to remove any governors in Iraq," with the exception of Kirkuk "due to the province's special status."
The oil-rich Kirkuk is a diverse region, made up of Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians and Kurds as the largest group. It is one of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad.
“The decision will not affect my duty as Governor. I will continue to serve our people, and preparations for the referendum are underway,” Karim told Kurdistan 24.
He mentioned that the US Special Presidential Envoy for the campaign against the Islamic State (IS) Brett McGurk had contacted him to inform the Governor he believed the decision of Iraq's Parliament was "a mistake" and "wrong." McGurk has not yet issued any statements on this subject.
Karim noted that the Kurdistan Region's leadership, including President Barzani, has expressed support for Kirkuk and himself in response to Baghdad's recent actions.
The Governor’s media office also released a statement which declared Karim would "remain in his duties as the Governor of Kirkuk to serve the citizens of the province."
Recently, the Parliament of Iraq voted to reject the Kurdistan Region's referendum in another majority vote, which the representatives for the Kurds boycotted.
President Barzani has repeatedly mentioned that the referendum would not be postponed unless a concrete alternative is given to the people of the Kurdistan Region to achieve independence.
Editing by G.H. Renaud