ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani said on Saturday that an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil is needed to take the next steps toward resolving ongoing issues in the disputed province of Kirkuk.
He argued that this should be accepted by all ethnic populations of the ethnically diverse governorate.
“The issues in Kirkuk are not only the disputes between two parties or disagreements between some political sides, but are historic and political disputes with multiple dimensions,” read a statement released by Barzani.
The comments come a day after dozens of Arab nationalists in Kirkuk took to the streets to protest the nomination of a Kurd to be the next provincial governor.
Barzani declared his support for an agreement between the main two Kurdish parties, one of which he leads, to normalize the security and administrative situation in Kirkuk. He also noted, however, that “issues, including the governor, need to be resolved first between Erbil and Baghdad.”
He also said that such an agreement “must be accepted by all the components of Kirkuk.”
“We will not compromise on the Kurdistani identity of Kirkuk at all, and we insist on making Kirkuk the symbol of coexistence between all ethnic and religious components where they can live in peace,” he concluded.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) announced on Thursday, following a months-long dispute, that Kurdish politician Tayib Jabar Amin was their sole candidate to be Kirkuk’s new governor.
Though rivals in the Kurdistan Region, in Kirkuk the two parties band together to form the Brotherhood Alliance, which has an absolute majority on Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC)—the local legislative body. The council has the authority to choose who takes the top post.
In late 2017, Iraqi troops and Shia militias took over Kirkuk and forced the retreat of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in response to the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum which saw an overwhelming majority vote for statehood.
Since then, the governor's post has been held by Baghdad-appointed bureaucrat Rakan Saeed who replaced then-governor Najmaldin Karim after he fled to take refuge in Erbil.
Editing by John J. Catherine