Activist group seeks making Kirkuk province autonomous region

Kirkuk, 24 December 2020 – activist group at press conference announcing plan to turn Kirkuk in to autonomous region – photo: KirkukNow

KirkukNow - Kirkuk

A group of activists, notables and law experts announced a plan to turn Kirkuk into an autonomous region, aiming to radically resolve the administrative issues and “returning the income and services” to the people, members of the group say.

The announcement was made today, 24 December, during a press conference by the group, which KirkukNow attended, and which a number of activists, teachers, lawyers and Kirkuk’s notables attended.

Hiwa Hasan, a member of the group (the Independent Committee for Making Kirkuk a Region), said during the press conference that they don’t belong to any political, ethnic or religious party, but that their objective is to turn Kirkuk into an autonomous region in accordance with the constitution, so that it receives its share of the federal income and its residents provided with services.

The stage of implementing this project is based on Article 13, ratified by the Iraqi Parliament in 2018, and Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution, which consist of first collecting the province resident’s signatures and then holding a referendum of whether or not becoming an autonomous region.

Ahang Anwar, a lawyer and a member of the group, told KirkukNow: “By turning Kirkuk into a region, we want to return the income of the province to its residents and serve all the classes and different ethnicities.”

According to Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution, a province or a group of provinces have the right to become a federal region, provided the threshold for a referendum demand is met.

Two men interrupted the press conference, shouting “no to region” and expressed demands for implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution for determining the fate of the province, before being pushed out of the building by members of the group.

Ahang Anwar said: “I think turning Kirkuk into a region is better than Article 140, because it has been frozen for many years and no step has been taken for its implementation.”

Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution is meant to determine the fate of Kirkuk province and other areas disputed between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Its implementation was supposed to have been carried out by the end of 2007 through three stages: normalisation, referendum and consensus. But the process is still stuck in the first stage.

Samal Jabar, another member of the group, told KirkukNow: “We seek to find a suitable solution for the city’s issues. And the solution is an autonomous region. That’s why our next step is to visit political parties, religious, academic and community leaders to discuss the project.”

There have been similar efforts before, especially from a number of Arab and Turkmen parties. But those went silent later.

Usama Kamal, another member of the group, told KirkukNow: “The project doesn’t have connections to any political parties; it is only for serving the province, so that the people can benefit from its income. That is why we ask all Kirkuk’s residents to support the project.

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