The Sovereignty Alliance, the largest Sunni Arab parliamentary coalition, decided to keep the acting governor of Kirkuk in his position and not take the constitutional oath in the Iraqi parliament, a step considered, according to more than one source, "part of the tripartite alliance agreement between Al-Sadr, Al-Halbousi and Barzani."
After the approval of final results of October 21 General Elections by the Federal Court, these three political parties announced an alliance to form a national majority government, and on January 9, the positions of the presidency of the Iraqi parliament were shared among them.
The Sovereignty Alliance, which is a major party to the agreement and is headed by Muhammad al-Halbousi, the former and current speaker of the Iraqi parliament, and Khamis al-Khanjar, decided on February 4, that Rakan al-Jibouri, acting governor of Kirkuk since 2017, would continue to serve as the governor of Kirkuk and not take the constitutional oath as member of Iraqi parliament in which he earned a seat in October 10th General elections.
A member of the Political Bureau of the Arab Alliance headed by al-Jibouri and currently part of the Sovereignty Alliance, revealed to KirkukNow, "After nearly a month of tug-of-war, the Sovereignty Alliance resolved the issue of Rakan Saeed Al-Jibouri by remaining in the position of Kirkuk Governor."
Under the Iraqi Parliament Elections Law, the winning candidate in the parliamentary elections is obligated to take the constitutional oath within a maximum period of one month from the date of the first session, or else another candidate will take his place.
In this case, if al-Jibouri, the winning candidate for the Arab coalition in the third electoral district in Kirkuk province, does not take the constitutional oath until February 9th, his replacement will be the losing candidate with the highest votes in that district.
A member of the Political Bureau of the Arab Alliance, who preferred not to reveal his name, said, “Wasfi Al-Asi will replace Al-Jibouri in the Iraqi parliament, but the agreement is conditional and stipulates that: Whenever Rakan Saeed requests to return to the Iraqi parliament, Wasfi Al-Asi should withdraw from the parliament to make way for Rakan Saeed."
He stressed that "the agreement is part of the tripartite alliance agreements between Al-Sadr, Barzani and Al-Halbousi to form a national majority government, which also includes resolving the position of Kirkuk governor."
The oil rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq's second largest oil reserves, is ethnically a mixed province of 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmens. It has long been at the center of disputes between the federal government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government KRG, that runs from Shingal in Ninewa province on the Syrian border southeast to Khanaqin and Mandali on the Iranian border.
The move comes at a time when the future of the tripartite alliance is undetermined after that Sadr's Sadrist Bloc on Saturday, February 5, suspended negotiations to form a national majority government until further notice and said it would boycott Monday's parliament session to elect the new president of the republic.
On these developments and their impact on the agreement regarding the position of Kirkuk governor, a source told (KirkukNow), "The agreement to resolve the position of the governor of Kirkuk may be temporary and may continue, it is not clear yet."
On Sunday, Iraq’s supreme court suspended the presidential bid by Hoshyar Zebari, candidate of Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP led by Barzani and former foreign minister, over graft allegations.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, which had an upper hand in Kirkuk till 2017 when Iraqi military forces imposed Law Enforcement operation to oust the Kurdish Peshemrga from Kirkuk and the disputed territories, endeavors to regain this position of governor it was holding since 2005.
The anonymous source stressed that the other components of the province were aware of this agreement and had dialogue with them about it. "This is a consensual issue and it is not easy to succeed without reaching an agreement."
For its part, the PUK denies being aware of such an agreement, stressing that it "will not accept it."
The PUK will continue its efforts and meetings to regain this position
Jangi Izzadin, deputy official of the Kirkuk Organizations Center of the PUK, said the decision for Rakan Saeed to remain in his position is part of an agreement between three Iraqi parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, al-Sadr and al-Halbousi.
“This decision does not mean that nothing is wrong and all has been resolved. The PUK will continue its efforts and meetings to regain this position, but the matter depends on how and when the Iraqi government is formed.”
The PUK is the only party that earned three seats out of a total of 12 parliamentary seats for Kirkuk, the rest of the seats are distributed to other parties of different nationalities.
The National Alliance chaired by al-Jibouri has earned only one seat in Kirkuk.
"We are not ready to give up this position because it is our right, but the resolution of the issue has been postponed... For every recent incident, we will have the PUK seeking the position of President of the Republic, after which we will also fight for the position of Kirkuk Governor," Izzadin confirmed.
We did not mind him continuing in office until the next elections
But the source in the Arab coalition told (KirkukNow), "It is true that the governor's position is the right of the winner of the elections and the Kurds won the majority of Kirkuk seats, but if the Arabs and Turkmen support each other, they will be able to form a majority and settle the position in their favour, but for now Rakan Saeed's stay in office came by consensus.”
The Kurds own six of the 12 parliamentary seats of Kirkuk, the Arabs have four, and the Turkmen have two seats, besides a quota seat for the Christian component.
The Turkmens, third component of Iraq mainly based in Kirkuk, have not minded the agreement though denied being consulted.
Qahtan Al-Wandawi, head of the Kirkuk branch of the Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF, said, "We were not consulted on the issue of Rakan Saeed's remaining at office, but we did not mind his continuation in his position until the next elections."
"The Turkmen Front is waiting for the upcoming elections for the provincial councils, so that the governor's position will be decided in a due manner," he added.
However, Al-Wandawi stressed that the Turkmen Front was to push a candidate for the position if Rakan Saeed had joined parliament, "but we postponed this process till Rakan Saeed leavs office."
The agreement is related to resolving the issue of taking the constitutional oath.
(KirkukNow) contacted a number of leaders and representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Parliament KDP, including Shakhwan Abdullah, the second deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament, but none of them were available to comment.
Wasfi Al-Asi of the United Arab Front - who competed with Rakan Saeed's coalition in the last elections - is scheduled to take the constitutional oath this month to take Rakan Saeed's seat in the Iraqi parliament.
However, a source close to Wasfi Al-Assi anonymously said, "In the next few days, we will express our opinion on the agreement, because the agreement is related to resolving the issue of taking the constitutional oath in the Iraqi parliament."
According to information obtained by KirkukNow, if Wasfi Al-Asi joins parliament, it is possible that the Arabs will form an expanded coalition for the upcoming elections, including the Iraqi provincial council elections, the date of which has not been set yet.
"The Arab House will be organized in Kirkuk, and we aspire to reconcile the largest number of Arab personalities and prepare for the next stage," the source concluded.