Iraq Parliament sacks Kirkuk governor

Iraq Parliament sacks Kirkuk governor
Governor of Kirkuk Province Najmaddin Kareem speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kirkuk, Iraq on September 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Ako Rasheed)
Updated 15 September 2017

Iraq Parliament sacks Kirkuk governor

Iraq Parliament sacks Kirkuk governor

KIRKUK, Iraq: Iraq’s Parliament on Thursday voted to dismiss the Kurdish governor of the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province.
The move could escalate tensions ahead of a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.
Iraq’s Kurds plan to hold the vote on Sept. 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region as well as disputed areas like Kirkuk that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad. Late last month, Kirkuk’s provincial council voted to take part in the referendum. Iraq’s central government has rejected the polls as unconstitutional and illegal.
Lawmaker Hussein Al-Maliki said Parliament voted to dismiss Kirkuk Gov. Najmaddin Karim based on consultations with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.
Mohammed Al-Karboli, another Arab lawmaker, said Karim “threatens the country’s unity and civil peace in Kirkuk.”
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani condemned the decision to remove the governor, according to local media reports.
Speaking at a pro-referendum rally in Zakho, a city in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan, Barzani said that Baghdad had left no room for negotiations over the independence referendum, according to Kurdish TV channel Kurdistan 24.
All Kurdish members boycotted Thursday’s Parliamentary session, while 187 mainly Arab and Turkmen legislators voted in favor, the two lawmakers said. The governor has the right to appeal the decision, Al-Karboli added.
Shortly after the session, the Kirkuk governor rejected the Parliament decision in a statement, describing it as “invalid” and insisting that he will stay in office. “The Parliament decision ... doesn’t mean anything to Kirkuk and its governor who is still in office,” said the statement.
Brett McGurk, US special presidential envoy to the anti-Daesh coalition calling on Kurdish leaders in Iraq to halt the referendum in favor of an alternative.
McGurk said at a news conference in Irbil that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum. While providing no details on the alternative, he said he has presented it to Kurdish leaders.
“There’s an alternative on the table. It’s decision time,” he said.