Nineveh dispute continues as local council votes in new governor

“I will only step down by a presidential decree,” the incumbent governor has said.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Nineveh Provincial Council (NPC) on Sunday elected retired military general Najim al-Jabouri as governor, a local source said, days after the incumbent disputed a council vote to relieve him from his duties.

The source said that 23 NPC attending members of the council voted for Jabouri, adding that the election took place within a “legal framework and smoothly and without any problems.”

Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Adil Abdul Mahdi retired Najim al-Jabouri after he was exempted from the Nineveh Operations Command about six months ago.

“The vote was by a majority of those present,” the source concluded. NPC has 39 members.

Nineveh council lawmaker Salim Mohammed Shabak welcomed Jabouri’s nomination for the governorship post, describing him in a statement as a “patriotic personality far from connections outside the border.”

After the fall of the so-called Islamic State, Iran-backed militias increased their political as well as economic influence in Nineveh, with many reports on abuses the paramilitaries committed against local populations.

On Tuesday, the NPC held a session during which it accepted a purported resignation letter of incumbent governor Mansour al-Mareed, who immediately held a press conference denouncing the decision, pointing out that the national parliament had already voted to freeze the work of provincial councils.

The Iraqi Parliament vote came in late October amid nationwide anti-government protests that began at the start of the month and have so far resulted in the deaths of over 320 demonstrators and injury to 15,000 more as a violent crackdown continues.

The legislature reportedly authorized provincial governors to take over the duties of councils.

Mareed reiterated his position regarding the NPC on Sunday, stating: “We do not recognize any of the decisions of the provincial council, including today’s.”

“It lacks a legal basis, and I still exercise my duties as governor,” he added. “I will only step down by a presidential decree.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany