ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on Saturday decided to terminate the party membership of former Governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim, who submitted his resignation letter eight months ago.
The leadership council of the PUK made the decision during a meeting where a special committee was formed to finalize the termination of Karim’s membership to the party, according to Wasta Rasul, a member of the PUK’s leadership.
Serving as the personal doctor to the late leader of the PUK and former Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, Karim was a member of the PUK’s Politburo.
He served as the Governor of Kirkuk from 2011 until Oct. 2017, before he was ousted from his post by the federal government of Iraq for supporting and including the disputed province in the Kurdistan Region’s Sept. 25 referendum on independence, which saw 93 percent favoring statehood.
Following the PUK’s decision to terminate his party membership, Karim, in his own statement, said he had already submitted his resignation letter to the Acting Secretary-General of the PUK, Kosrat Rasul, on July 15, 2018.
Regarding the reasons behind his resignation, Karim in the letter wrote: “There are many reasons, including rivalries and division in the party’s leadership [...], the way the party is being managed, working against one another.” He lamented the fact that the current party was behaving “in a way” that would suggest “a man and a great leader like his Excellency Mam Jalal [Jalal Talabani], was never a president of the party.”
The Governor highlighted the Oct. 16 incident of 2017 as another leading cause for his resignation.
“More than everything else was the absence of investigations on the group that caused us to lose Kirkuk and other parts outside of the [Kurdistan] Region, surrendering to the enemies of our people, those who offered false promises [to the group who handed over these areas] for personal interests.”
Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Oct. 16 attacked and took over Kirkuk, which consequently led the Kurdish Peshmerga to withdraw from other disputed territories to protect the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish leadership, including the PUK’s senior leaders, accused some members of the PUK of committing “treason” by secretly cooperating with Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia militias, helping them enter Kirkuk “over false promises and for personal gains.”
The oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk is made up of Turkmens, Arabs, and Christians, with a Kurdish majority.
Kirkuk is one of the multiple disputed territories claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq. Article 140 in the Iraqi Constitution provided for an exclusive referendum to be held in the province and other disputed regions by the end of 2007 to determine the future of those areas, but it has yet to be implemented by subsequent Iraqi governments.
Editing by Nadia Riva