PUK patience runs out over Kirkuk: official

The patience of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) over Kirkuk is “about to run out”, said the head of the PUK HQ in Kirkuk Aso Mamand, claiming that they have shown restraint to avoid any escalation. Speaking in a presser on 1 July, Mamand discussed the recent developments in Kirkuk, especially the recent blasts, attacks, assassinations and abductions as he claimed that some of the acts are to target the ballot boxes and create escalation.   An influential figure in Kirkuk, Mamand is at the same time a member of the PUK’s running body, the Political Bureau. “We have shown restraint for the sake of people and protection of their lives, not to be the cause of chaos and escalation. We believe in the law and the constitution, but we take all measures and do not compromise,” Mamand said asking the other components, “Do not allow those people to foment chaos and deepen the issues.” PUK’s efforts have begun to normalize the situation in Kirkuk, according to him, as they have asked many times to form a joint force, including peshmerga, the coalition and Iraqi forces, to protect the city.   The measure of peshmerga's return has already been voiced out by the representatives of Arab and Turkmen components of Kirkuk, although Kurdish officials tend to repeat the call. Kirkuk, as cited by Kurdish officials to the local outlets, was largely safe and stable when peshmerga was in control. The city was under the rule of peshmerga until late last year, where the Iraqi forces raided the city in a one-day operation, largely without any confrontation. The warnings came at a time where two bombs went off near a warehouse for storing the ballot boxes in Kirkuk, killing one and wounding some others. “We suspect such blasts… It’s true they have been committed by terrorist groups, but they have been committed for two reasons,” said Mamand, claiming that one of the reasons was to create chaos near the ballot warehouse and mess up with the votes. The second reason, he said, is to intimidate the representatives of political parties and components not to be present when the votes are recounted, or sent to Baghdad. Kirkuk has been a hotspot of a protest related to the electoral rigging, where several parties claimed PUK had rigged the results, a claim denied by PUK officials.

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