Shafaq News / The media office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani announced today, Sunday, that he held two telephone conversations to discuss the situation in Kirkuk governorate. He engaged in discussions with Speaker of the Parliament, Mohammed Rikan Al-Halbousi, and the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Bafel Talabani.
In an official statement released by the office, both calls stressed the shared importance of preventing any attempts to disrupt the peaceful coexistence that Kirkuk currently enjoys. They acknowledged the efforts of its residents and the sacrifices made by our armed forces in all their capacities, who have been successful in defeating terrorism.
Over the past few days, numerous demonstrators aligned with various Arab and Turkmen political factions in Kirkuk have blocked the primary road connecting the governorate to Erbil. Their protest is in response to the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) intention to reopen its offices in Kirkuk, per the political agreement reached with the State Administration Coalition. This coalition includes the forces and political parties that constitute the current federal government, led by Mohammed Shia Al Sudani.
Yesterday, during Saturday evening, Kirkuk witnessed the presence of dozens of Kurdish demonstrators in areas predominantly inhabited by the Kurdish community. They were demanding the reopening of the road and an end to the ongoing sit-ins in front of the headquarters. Regrettably, this led to an exchange of gunfire, resulting in casualties and injuries.
Due to the tensions accompanying the protests in Kurdish areas, Iraqi security authorities imposed a curfew in Kirkuk.
In the early hours of today, Acting Governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Al-Jubouri, announced a delay in the evacuation of the operations headquarters in the governorate. This headquarters was planned to be handed over to the KDP as its location. The delay comes in response to acts of violence that resulted in casualties and injuries. Al-Jubouri stated, "Following a phone call from Prime Minister Al Sudani, we announce a postponement of evacuating the operations headquarters in Kirkuk. We are heading to engage in dialogue with the demonstrators, as directed by the Prime Minister." He added that the protesters "have decided to remove the tents, conclude their sit-in, and reopen the road."
Furthermore, yesterday, on Saturday, Al Sudani had ordered the formation of an investigative committee to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the casualties and injuries related to the events in Kirkuk.
Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani condemned the violent incidents accompanying the protests in the Kurdish-majority areas of Kirkuk, which led to casualties and injuries. He emphasized that "Kirkuk must serve as a model of coexistence among its components. However, these unlawful actions represent an attempt to sow discord and undermine coexistence."
Additionally, the President of the Kurdistan Region (KRI), Nechirvan Barzani, warned yesterday about unlawful activities taking place in Kirkuk. He stressed that "all parties bear the responsibility of preserving the security and stability of the governorate and must not, under any pretext, complicate the security situation in Kirkuk and its surroundings."
Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Region's Government (KRG), appealed to the original Arab and Turkmen residents of Kirkuk to keep outsiders away from the governorate to maintain social peace.
It is worth noting that the KDP, led by Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, had vacated its party headquarters and institutions in Kirkuk following the military operation conducted by the federal government in the disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad after the independence referendum held by the KRI in September 2017. This led to the withdrawal of Peshmerga forces and Asayish from those areas.