Kurds reach agreement with Baghdad to hold census, referendum on Kirkuk

Kurdistan Region delegation in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Photo: Iraqi presidency

According to a press readout from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office, Kurdish parties and the central government have reached an agreement on holding a census and referendum regarding the future of disputed northern city Kirkuk.

A Kurdish delegation comprised of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Wednesday night to discuss tensions in Kirkuk, reported Rudaw.

The move will mean the reactivation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which states that “disputed areas” between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad, including Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh, must hold referenda on whether they wish to be part of the KRG.

The article should have been implemented before 2007 but has constantly been postponed due to unrest and instability in the country.

The hoisting of the Kurdistan Region flag in Kirkuk has escalated tensions on a regional scale with Iran and Turkey voicing disapproval of the action, while Kurdish parties have supported the move as another step towards independence from Baghdad.

The Kurdish delegation in Baghdad is meeting parties and individuals from across the political spectrum to resolve the issue.

“The right of the people of Kurdistan to self-determination and referendum will be on the table. We want to find political and peaceful ways to address this issue with Baghdad, so that we arrive at an understanding while the interests of both sides are preserved,” Adnan Mufti, a member of the Kurdish delegation, said.

Kirkuk is an oil rich majority Kurdish multiethnic city formed of Turkmen, Arabs and Assyrians.