GeriGündem Iraqis see compromise on Kirkuk standoff, vote rescheduled for Tues
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Iraqis see compromise on Kirkuk standoff, vote rescheduled for Tues

Iraqis see compromise on Kirkuk standoff, vote rescheduled for Tues
refid:9584363 ilişkili resim dosyası

Iraqi lawmakers rescheduled for Tuesday a vote on a provincial election law, which had been held up by wrangling over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk that has threatened to escalate into renewed ethnic strife. Turkey's nationalist opposition party leader accused Tuesday the ruling AKP of remaining silent over the recent developments in Kirkuk. (UPDATED)

Iraqi political leaders reached a tentative compromise on Monday that may resolve a stalemate over the fate of Kirkuk and allow local elections to go ahead, the deputy speaker of parliament, Khalid al-Attiya, told Reuters, adding the parliamentary debate was scheduled "after fresh hope appeared of reaching an agreement".

Washington has been pressing hard on Iraqi leaders to resolve the stand-off before it jeopardizes the elections, originally scheduled for Oct. 1 and seen as vital to reconciling the country's factions and solidifying its fragile democracy.

United States President George W. Bush has personally phoned senior Iraqi leaders to push them to compromise.

A vote had been planned for Sunday but it was scrapped when lawmakers failed to agree on how the elections would affect Kirkuk, which minority Kurds want to make part of their semi-autonomous northern region.

Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli called on the country's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a written statement to warn Iraqi Kurdish groups in Kirkuk more openly and take the necessary measures in order to protect Turkmen’s rights.

Turkey, who has historical ties with Kirkuk, has been monitoring the situation very closely and calls on all parties to reach consensus for a solution. Turkey pursues every diplomatic means for Kirkuk to have special status in a united Iraq as a result of U.N.-brokered negotiations participated in by all the groups in the disputed city.

Kirkuk, an ancient city that once was part of the Ottoman Empire, is home to Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds. Control over Kirkuk and the surrounding oil wealth is in dispute between the city's three ethnic groups.

PROTESTS
Several hundred people in a Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad took to the streets on Monday to protest moves by Kurds to incorporate the oil province of Kirkuk, an ancient city that once was part of the Ottoman Empire, into the autonomous Kurdish region, AFP reported.

Residents of Adhamiyah marched for an hour carrying banners that read: "No to the breakup of Iraq," "Kirkuk must remain a symbol of national brotherhood" and "the tribes of Adhamiyah condemn the annexation of Kirkuk to Kurdistan."

Many carried Iraqi flags as they chanted: "No to the division of Iraq;" "Yes to unity of the country;" "We will give our blood and our soul for Kirkuk."

Last month, Iraq’s parliament approved legislation to hold elections for local councils in all 18 provinces, including Tamim, where Kirkuk is located.

 

The measure said seats on the ruling council in the Kirkuk area should be divided equally among Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs. It would also transfer security responsibilities in Kirkuk to mostly Arab military units brought from central and southern Iraq instead of those already there - an apparent move against Kurdish peshmerga troops heavily deployed in the area.

 

But Kurds and their allies, who currently hold a majority on the council, oppose the power-sharing formula. Iraq’s three-member presidential council rejected the measure and sent it back to parliament after President Jalal Talabani - a Kurd - opposed it.

 

CRITICISM FROM BARZANI

The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region Massoud Barzani has sharply criticized a provincial election bill as a "conspiracy," deepening a political rift over Kirkuk.

 

"After the long talks we held it was clear for us that what happened on July 22 was a big conspiracy and very dangerous for the democratic and constitutional process of Iraq, in particular against the Kurds," Barzani said.

 

"Kurds are for the distribution of authority in Kirkuk but not equally dividing it," he added. "The division should come from the election results."

 

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