Kirkuk to have referendum on joining Kurdistan Region

Kirkuk’s city assembly has voted in favour of a referendum on the city joining the Kurdistan Regional Government in a vote boycotted by the assembly’s Arab and Turkmen members.

The assembly convened to discuss simmering tensions over the hoisting of the Kurdistan region’s flag in government buildings in Kirkuk city, northern Iraq, and also to vote on taking the city to a referendum on joining the KRG.

Officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) met in Pirmam town, north of Erbil, on 2 April to discuss a possible independence referendum for the Kurdistan Region and escalating tensions in Kirkuk.

Turkmen political parties in Kirkuk had previously expressed their discontent with the Kirkuk Governorate’s decision to raise the flag of the Kurdistan region alongside the Iraqi federal flag on government buildings.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, the Chair of Kirkuk’s City Assembly Rebwar Talabani said, “We, as the city’s council, have decided on a referendum to determine the fate of Kirkuk and to end its status as a disputed area. We will present the central government of Iraq with our decision. The people of Kirkuk no longer have the strength to wait.”

Talabani also said that they will not recognise the Iraqi parliament’s decision that only the Iraqi flag could be hoisted on government buildings in Kirkuk.

The referendum will ask the people of Kirkuk whether they want to be politically attached to Iraq’s central government or the Kurdistan Regional Government in the north of the country.

Kirkuk City Assembly consists of 41 members of which 26 are Kurdish, 9 are Turkmen and 6 are Arabs. No date has been set for the referendum.