Iraqi Provincial Election Law Leads Kirkuk into “Unprecedented

The Iraqi Council of Representatives is holding an extraordinary session today to discuss amending the controversial Provincial Council Election Law passed by the Iraqi Parliament in a secret ballot. Some Iraqi political forces, particularly the Kurds, have strongly protested against and rejected the new law. The law, which Iraqi President Jalal Talabani rejected, includes an article on o dividing administrative posts of Kirkuk according to percentages. This is protested by the Kurds, who assert that power-sharing should be based on agreement, not on percentages. In the city of Al- Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, thousands of Arabs staged demonstrations in protest against the demands of the Kurdish blocs in the governorate to annex to the Kurdistan Region.

[Begin Recording] [Abd-al-Qahhar Jum’a video report] Facts indicate that the Iraqi Governorate of Kirkuk has entered a dangerous phase that threatens its geographic and demographic future. The acceleration of events in Kirkuk, particularly after the Iraqi Parliament passed the Provincial Council Election Law except in Kirkuk, the demonstrations staged by the Kurdish Coalition there, the suicide bombings accompanying it, and setting the headquarter of the Turkman Front on fire by demonstrating Kurds after their demonstrations were targeted by bombings , resulted in casualties.

On the other hand, Kirkuk’s Arab clans, specifically Al-Ubayd and Al-Jubur in the city of Al-Hawijah, staged demonstrations denouncing the demands of the Kurdish bloc in Kirkuk to annex the governorate to the Kurdistan Region. This indicates that the governorate is entering an unprecedented crisis, which made finding a prompt solution unlikely.

[Unidentified Arab tribal leader] We believe that this decision or recommendation is nothing but fantasy. It will, frankly, lead to destruction. It is like a suicide attack, because Kirkuk cannot be annexed through a decision, or through the will of one component.

[Jum’a] Kirkuk has around one million inhabitants of various ethnic backgrounds. ; Arabs, Kurds, Turkmans and Christians. In spite of the lack of accurate statistics, which specify the percentages of the majority in Kirkuk, each group claims to constitute the majority in the governorate.

Since the deposition of the former regime and the adoption of sectarian and ethnic quota as the basis for governance, Kurds have occupied 26 seats out of the 42 seats of the Kirkuk Provincial Council. On the other hand, Turkmans occupied nine seats, Arabs six seats, and the Christians got one seat, after elections, during which the Arabs and the Turkmans accused the Kurds of taking advantage of their control over the security apparatus in the governorate to forge the elections. In addition to accusations of deliberate attempts to change the demography of Kirkuk through forcing Arabs to migrate to replace them by Kurds from outside the governorate.

Arabs and Turkomans reject the annexation of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Region, and call for consensus as the basis for power- sharing. As for the federal government in Baghdad, it called on all conflicting parties in Kirkuk to remain calm and resort to the constitution, until their leaders reach a final agreement, which determines the future of Kirkuk. [end recording] [Video shows footage of demonstrations in Kirkuk]

Originally published by Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 0510 3 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Middle East. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Story Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East