None of the political parties that represent the different ethnic and religious components of Kirkuk support turning the province into a federal region, they rather categorically reject it and say they suspect the matter is stirred up by external powers.
A group of activists, notables and law experts announced a plan to turn Kirkuk into an autonomous region, aiming to find a radical solution to the administrative issues and “returning the income and services” to the people, members of the group say.
Muhammad Sam’an, the spokesperson of the Turkmen Front, told KirkukNow: “Our party program and political agenda is against any plan or intention that is not the will of Kirkuk’s components. The Turkmen Front is against turning the province into a region. Yes, work on Article 140 has been halted, but Kirkuk’s components and political parties must agree on a joint project, not turning the province into a region.”
Muhammad says that turning Kirkuk is not the will of all the components, that’s why they are against it.
Hatim Ta’i, the spokesman Arab Political Council in Kirkuk (which consists of a number of political parties and tribal chiefs), announced that all the provinces of Iraq have one fate, adding “Kirkuk cannot be separated on its own, we are against any such attempts.”
Ta’i said: “We believe in the constitution and the law to determine the fate of this city, not projects and plans outside the law and the constitution.”
According to Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution, a province or a group of provinces have the right to become a federal region, provided the threshold for a referendum demand is met.
The activist group, which calls itself ‘the Independent Committee for Making Kirkuk a Region’, announced their project in a press conference on 24 December.
Hiwa Hasan, a member of the group, said during the press conference that they don’t belong to any political, ethnic or religious party, but that their objective is to turn Kirkuk into an autonomous region in accordance with the constitution, so that it receives its share of the federal income and its residents provided with services.
Ahmad Rafeeq, the spokesman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told KirkukNow: “The PUK has been working in Kirkuk, in Kurdistan, and the region on making Kirkuk part of Kurdistan; we work for that goal and don’t consider any alternative to making the province part of Kurdistan and the implementation of Article 140 as fair.”
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution is meant to determine the fate of Kirkuk province and other areas disputed between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Its implementation was supposed to have been carried out by the end of 2007 through three stages: normalisation, referendum and consensus. But the process is still stuck in the first stage.
During the press conference by the activist group, two men interrupted once of the speakers and shouted slogans demanding “no to region” and expressed demands for implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution for determining the fate of the province, before being pushed out of the building by members of the group.
Ahang Anwar, a lawyer and a member of the group, said: “I think turning Kirkuk into a region is better than Article 140, because it has been frozen for many years and no step has been taken for its implementation.”
I think turning Kirkuk into a region is better than Article 140
The stages of implementing the group’s project is based on Article 13, ratified by the Iraqi Parliament in 2018, and Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution, which consist of first collecting the province resident’s signatures and then holding a referendum of whether or not becoming an autonomous region.
“By turning Kirkuk into a region, we want to return the income of the province to its residents and serve all the classes and different ethnicities,” Ahang Anwar said.
There have been similar efforts before, especially from a number of Arab and Turkmen parties. But those went silent later.