Hassan Toran has been elected as the leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF with 12 members of the Political Bureau and three reserve members while Arsahd Salihi who chaired the ITF for years have not attended the party conference.
The changes came more than a year after the resignation of Salihi and the appointment of Toran under an agreement with an executive committee to run the ITF.
According to more than one source who spoke to KirkukNow, today with the election of Toran, the Political Bureau of the ITF, which consists of 12 members and three reserve members, were elected but no one has been elected as deputy. Salihi did not participate in the ITF internal elections.
According to a statement issued by the meeting, changes have been made to the bylaws of the ITF.
On March 28, 2021, Arshad Salihi announced his resignation from the presidency of the ITF at a meeting of the executive committee in addition to the appointment of Toran as his replacement with two deuties.
In a statement then, the ITF said, "Arshad Salihi will devote his time to political work, building relations and negotiations for the Turkmens.”
Salihi, who has been leading the ITF since 2011, has been the leader of the ITF bloc in the Iraqi parliament in the past three sessions of the Iraqi parliament.
Toran, former deputy leader of the ITF, was the speaker of the Kirkuk provincial council until 2014, when he became a member of parliament, but was replaced by a Turkmen woman in the May 2018 women's final elections.
Turkmens, the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, are spread across the country, residing almost exclusively in the northern towns and villages stretching from Tal Afar through Mosul, Erbil, Altun Kopri, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, Kifri and Khanaqin. They are all Muslims, half Sunnis and half Shiites.
In the last Iraqi parliamentary elections on October 10, the ITF won only one seat in Kirkuk province, unlike the previous elections, which consistently had two seats.
In May 2021, Hassan Toran, in a meeting with a number of media outlets, in response to a question by KirkukNow reporter about the ITF’s views on the future of coexistence in Kirkuk, he commented that, "Coexistence is bound to equal sharing of posts among the ethnicities 32% for the three main ones, taking into account the principle of power rotation in these posts.”
The northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Sunni and Shiite Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmens. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.
Though there are no official records about the Turkmens in Kirkuk, Turkmen political parties say there are over 200,000 Turkmen voters in Kirkuk which has been divided into three constituencies for 12 seats in October 10th, 2021 General Elections.
Turkmen political parties have gathered only 100,000 votes in May 2018 elections in Kirkuk and has earned three seats in 2018 yet dropped to only two seats in 2021 Elections.