ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad by majority vote has decided to sack the Kurdish Governor of Kirkuk.
On Thursday, 173 Members of the Iraqi Parliament voted to remove the Kurdish Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, from his position shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Parliament to remove the former from his post.
Kurdish MPs in Baghdad boycotted the session. Additionally, the Kurdistan Region's Presidency rejected the decision by Baghdad to dismiss Karim saying that the Iraqi Parliament had violated the Constitution "once again."
Early Thursday, the Office of the Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker announced it had received a letter from the Iraqi PM requesting Parliament sack Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim.
In response, MPs in the Iraqi Parliament collected 128 signatures to remove the Kurdish governor who has been campaigning for the upcoming independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region.
At the same time, Iraqi MPs gathered 110 signatures to sack Iraq’s Kurdish President Fuad Masum.
No reason was given by Baghdad for either push to dismiss both Kurdish politicians, however, it is suspected to be linked to the current push by Kurdish parties to hold a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Fuad Kamil, a member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, while speaking to Kurdistan 24 said the decision was politically motivated and has no legal basis. He vowed the Provincial Council in Kirkuk would not abide by Baghdad's decision.
Karim has been campaigning with President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani this week and has called for the referendum to also be held in the disputed province of Kirkuk.
At an event in Kirkuk this week, President Barzani alluded to attempts by Baghdad to remove Karim.
“The Baghdad parliament is about to remove Dr. Najmaldim, but we do not listen to them or care,” said Barzani.
Karim won the 2014 general elections in Kirkuk by a landslide, receiving over 200,000 votes and has enjoyed significant support across ethnic and religious groups in the province.
Editing by G.H. Renaud