ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), which was scheduled to meet on Monday, postponed their meeting due to disagreements between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), a council member has claimed.
On Feb. 5, following a meeting between the KDP and the PUK, the parties had agreed to hold a KPC meeting on Feb. 18, 16 months after the council failed to reconvene in the aftermath of the October 2017 events.
“We have been notified by the secretary of the KPC leadership that today’s meeting was postponed indefinitely,” Jwan Hassan, a member of the KPC, told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Members of the Council were expected to elect a new Kurdish governor for the disputed province, but disagreements between the KDP and the PUK have delayed proceedings, a source from the KPC told Kurdistan 24.
The disagreements were mostly over candidates for the post and the location of the meeting, with the PUK insisting the meeting be held in Kirkuk and the KDP rejecting the former’s candidate and wanting the meeting to be held in Erbil because of concerns related to the current situation in Kirkuk, the source added.
Following the Oct. 16 attack and military takeover of Kirkuk in 2017 by Iraqi forces and Shia militias, many of the KPC’s members fled to the Kurdistan Region, with the KDP refusing to return to the province and demanding the normalization and “de-militarization” of Kirkuk.
Out of a total 41 members of the KPC, Kurds hold the majority of seats, forming the “Brotherhood Coalition” with Turkmens and Arabs.
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.
The Kurdish Peshmerga forces were protecting Kirkuk from Islamic State attacks since the emergence of the jihadist group in 2014, but the Iraqi government took over the province in late 2017 in the wake of the Kurdistan Region’s Sept. 25 referendum on independence, which included Kirkuk. The result showed 93 percent favored secession from Iraq.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Soran Kamaran)