By Hussein al-Amir
President Fuad Masum on Monday called for keeping the oil-rich Kirkuk province out of the ongoing dispute between Baghdad and northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Masum made the remarks at a press conference held in Kirkuk following a brief visit to the Kurdish region.
“My visit to the province comes in hopes of keeping [Kirkuk] out of the problems [between Baghdad and the KRG], which could worsen if unattended to,” the Iraqi president said.
“We hope the events of Oct. 16 do not have negative repercussions on coexistence,” Masum added, referring to the date on which Iraqi forces assumed control of Kirkuk following the KRG’s illegitimate Sept. 25 referendum on Kurdish regional independence.
“We will do what we can to move past any negative effects of those events,” he said, going on to urge Kirkuk’s provincial council to elect a new governor at the earliest possible date.
In mid-October, Rakan al-Jabouri became Kirkuk’s first Arab governor since 2003 following the dismissal of former governor Najmiddin Karim.
Baghdad had accused Karim of violating Iraq’s constitution due to his stated support for the KRG’s illegitimate Sept. 25 poll.