Kirkuk mayor arrested on corruption charges: source

The largest Turkmen political coalition, of which the mayor is a member, criticized the arrest of the official, dismissed the charges, and demanded his release.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Local sources said on Monday that law enforcement authorities had arrested the mayor of Kirkuk, Falah Yayjli, on corruption-related charges.

Yayjli was reportedly detained following an official complaint that accused the local Turkmen official of failing to stop the seizure of state property by other actors.

The sources told Kurdistan 24 that Kirkuk District’s Directorate of Youth and Sports had filed a complaint with the Integrity Commission, claiming abuses and seizure of public property located in the al-Ihtifalat square of central Kirkuk city and under the management of the directorate.

Kirkuk is an ethnically diverse province which consists of Turkmen, Arabs, Christians, and Kurds, who make up the majority of the population. It is one of the areas disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq.

The Turkmen Front, the largest umbrella party for the ethnic group in Iraq, criticized the arrest of Yayjli, demanding his release and that a case be opened to investigate alleged corrupt dealings.

The head of the Turkmen Front in the Iraqi Parliament, MP Arshad al-Salhi, claimed in a statement that “the issue of violation [of property] in Kirkuk dates back to 2003 by influential political actors...and the mayorship has no power to stop them in light of the complex political situation” in the province.

He warned that “the patience of the people of Kirkuk and the Turkmen, in particular, will run out,” adding that the situation would "push the people to take to the streets.”

Iraq ranks high on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index amid the continued waste of public funds.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany