MHP head Bahçeli slams inclusion of Kirkuk in KRG referendum
ANKARANationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has criticized the participation of Kirkuk in the planned Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) independence referendum, saying it “aims to de-territorialize Turkmens” in the region.
“The Peshmerga administration insists on the so-called Kurdish referendum that it plans to hold on Sept. 25. And the Kirkuk Provincial Council’s decision on Aug. 29 in favor of having Kirkuk take part [in the referendum] adds to the series of scandals and betrayals,” Bahçeli posted on his official Twitter account on Aug. 31.
“They are trying to separate Turkmen lands from their sovereign and original owners,” he said.
“Kirkuk is Turkish. It will not be subjected to assimilationist aims and ethnic cleansing,” the MHP leader added.
In a session boycotted by Turkmen and Arab deputies, the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted on Aug. 29 in favor of joining the planned independence referendum to be held by the KRG.
Turkmen council member Ali Mehdi told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency on Aug. 29 that 24 members attended the session and those members who did not attend would apply to Iraq’s Supreme Court regarding the vote.
The oil-rich Kirkuk province is one of the disputed territories between the Iraqi central government and the KRG. Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, adopted after the U.S. invasion, stipulates that the administrative statuses of these areas should be determined with referendums by 2007. However, the referendums have still yet to be held due to the ongoing political turmoil in Iraq.