Arab candidate to replace Kirkuk governor as lawmaker

Kirkuk, September 16, 2019: The Arab Front in Kirkuk announces the formation of a coalition to participate in the parliamentary elections. KirkukNow

By KirkukNow

A loosing candidate in October 10th General Elections is to take oath and replace governor of Kirkuk who is to stay in office up to next provincial elections per agreement between the Sadr-led alliance.

Wasfi Al-Asi, head of the Arab Front and the losing candidate for the third electoral district in Kirkuk province, is in Baghdad, preparing to take the constitutional oath as a deputy in the Iraqi parliament, replacing Rakan Saeed Al-Jibouri, acting governor of Kirkuk.

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, otherwise, the losing candidate with the highest number of votes in his same constituency will take his place.

On Thursday, February 10, a month passed since the convening of the first session of the Iraqi parliament, it became necessary for Wasfi Al-Asi to take the vacant seat, as he was the loser with the highest votes in that constituency.

A source in Wasfi Al-Asi's office told KirkukNow, "Yes, he is currently in Baghdad to complete the procedures for taking the constitutional oath and carrying out his duties as a deputy, in the place of Rakan Saeed."

A member of the Political Bureau of the Arab Alliance led by Rakan al-Jibouri, said, "The agreement concluded between Rakan Saeed and Wasfi Al-Assi has entered into force, and Wasfi Al-Assi has been in Baghdad for two days to take the constitutional oath, and Rakan Saeed will remain in his position as the governor of Kirkuk, as he was not ready to join parliament and left his parliamentary seat to Wasfi Al-Asi.”

The move was not welcomed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK which is part of a political alliance aligned with Iran and had an upper hand in Kirkuk up to 2017.

Sabah Zanganeh, lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament from Kirkuk and member of the PUK, said, "their agreement is in the process of being implemented, and Wasfi Al-Asi is in the process of completing the procedures for carrying out his duties instead of Rakan Saeed."

Zanganeh stressed that, "taking an oath to assume the tasks instead of another candidate does not require holding a parliamentary session."


Kirkuk, May 23, 2020: Iraqi Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanimi and acting governor of Kirkuk Rakan Saeed at Kirkuk airport. Governor’s office media

On February 6, a report by KirkukNow revealed an agreement that the Sovereignty Alliance, the biggest Sunni Arab parliamentary bloc, decided that Rakan Saeed, the acting governor of Kirkuk, would remain in his position and not take the constitutional oath in the Iraqi parliament, and this step, according to more than one source, was “part of an agreement the tripartite alliance between populist Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, speaker of the Iraqi parliament Mohammed Al-Halbousi and Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani.

Following Federal Court’s approval of the final results of the Iraqi Parliament elections, 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 is a major party to the agreement and chaired by Muhammad Khamis al-Khanjar has taken the speaker position, and the Arab alliance led by al-Jibouri is now considered part of the Sovereignty Alliance.

According to the agreement within the Sovereignty Alliance, "Whenever Rakan Saeed requests to return to the Iraqi parliament, Wasfi Al-Asi should withdraw from the parliament to make way for Rakan Saeed."

Rakan Saeed won a seat in the Iraqi parliament in the legislative elections that took place on October 10, 2021, after receiving 14,684 votes, and came second in the third electoral district. Although Wasfi Al-Asi came third in the same constituency with 11,129 votes, he was forced by the election law to give up the seat in favor of the women's quota candidate.

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.

Kirkuk, 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is the center of the disputed territories of Iraq that runs from Shingal in Nineveh province on the Syrian border southeast to Khanaqin and Mandali on the Iranian border. 

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