President Barzani: Kurds Ready To Engage In Dialogue With All Kirkuk's Citizens, Constitution Should Be Implemented To Resolve Conflict Over Provincial Elections

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On first official trip to Kirkuk since liberation, President Barzani of the Kurdistan region clarifies position on Kirkuk, expresses desire to engage in dialogue with all groups to see the city become model for peaceful coexistence, and rejects claim that Kurds are trying to unilaterally annex the city.

President Barzani

this [resolution of the current conflict] is first and foremost the responsibility of the people of Kirkuk; outsiders can only have a helping role. However, I think there are some external people who are trying to manipulate this internal process to determine the fate of Kirkuk for their own ends.

President Barzani of the Kurdistan Region visited Kirkuk officially for the first time since the 2003 liberation, after a series of violent attacks stemming from the controversy over an upcoming Iraqi provincial election bill rocked the city. During his trip, the President sought to correct reports in the media about the Kurdish opposition to the bill by clarifying that the Kurds did not reject sharing power in the province but thought this should be determined through the constitutionally promised electoral process, rather than mandated by others. He expressed a firm desire to see the city become a bulwark for Iraqi democracy and peaceful coexistence despite its diversity, and steadfastly set forth a policy of dialogue with all the city's inhabitants regardless of their race, ethnicity, or religious creed.

"We come to bear a message of brotherhood and peace for all the people of Kirkuk -Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, Chaldeans and Assyrians", the President stated to open his address before the Kirkuk Provincial Council.

The President went on to speak about reports in the media which claim the Kurds rejected the proposed election law simply because it mandated power-sharing on the provincial council, which the Kurds currently control. "The issue of Kirkuk is very clear. There is a constitution approved by the majority of the people of Iraq. There is Article 140 in this constitution related to Kirkuk… Article 140 of the constitution will not be cancelled until all its provisions are implemented." It is the Kurdish position that the Kirkuk issue be resolved through the mandated plebiscite and not included in the debate over the provincial election law, which Kurdish leaders are committed to see held at the earliest possible date.

Seeking to assuage fears that minorities would be discriminated against should the province freely vote to join the existing Kurdistan Region, he pledged, "We believe that the Kurdistan Region is a region for all: Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, Chaldeans and Assyrians. Equally, Kirkuk is a city for these same people. When we talk about Kirkuk as belonging to the Kurdistan Region, we do not seek to deny Kirkuk its Iraqi identity… In the draft constitution of the Kurdistan Region, we have made sure that the rights of all people are protected regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion…because many different groups live in the Kurdistan Region, not just the Kurds. "

As proof of this commitment, he pointed to the behavior of Kurdish troops upon taking control of the city in the drive to overthrow Saddam, the Kurdish release of Arab and Iraqi prisoners of war in the aftermath of the 1991 uprisings, and his long history of advocating democracy for all Iraq. Although he acknowledged mistakes may have been made in the past by solitary individuals, he disavowed these actions as contrary to the policy of the Kurdistan Region to treat Kirkuk with fairness, honesty, and a democratic ethos.

Accordingly he stated, "this [resolution of the current conflict] is first and foremost the responsibility of the people of Kirkuk; outsiders can only have a helping role. However, I think there are some external people who are trying to manipulate this internal process to determine the fate of Kirkuk for their own ends." He committed to partnering with Kirkuk's diverse communities to overcome attempts to drive the groups apart and vowed to ensure their voice is heard through a fair, free election.

The President also expressed his personal condolences to those who have fallen victim to the recent violence.

President Barzani was unanimously elected the first President of the Kurdistan Region on 12 June, 2005. As President, he holds the highest executive authority in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, oversees the Region's external relations with the federal government, and represents the people of the Kurdistan Region. President Barzani has a long, illustrious history as a leader of the Kurdish movement, including a previous post on the Iraqi Governing Council. He is the leader of one of the two largest Iraqi Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and son of the deceased Mullah Mustafa Barzani, often referred to as the "father of the Kurds."

President Barzani's Full Speech

Press release: KRP rejects Iraqi Parliament plan on provincial council law

President Barzani's biography

If you would like to know more or schedule an interview with President Barzani, please call 00964 750 4985500 or email Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein at: diwan @ krp.org.

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Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein
KRP.org
00964 66 223 5500
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