Iraqi parliament votes against flying KRG flag in Kirkuk
BAGHDADThe Iraqi Parliament on April 1 voted against the decision of Kirkuk Provincial Council to raise the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) alongside the Iraqi flag in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the parliament session and the lawmakers voted to bring down the KRG flag on all governmental buildings in Kirkuk.
“We left the parliament session after tensions erupted over the Kurdistan flag decision,” said Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament, Bakhtyar Shawais.
Speaking to NRT, another Kurdish MP Shwan Dawdy said the parliament vote would not affect the Kirkuk council’s decision to fly the KRG flag alongside the Iraqi flag, as “it is just a measure not a bill.”
Members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council voted on March 28 in favor of raising the KRG flag over official buildings during a meeting that was boycotted by Turkmen and Arabs.
During the session, the Iraqi government stressed that only the flag of Iraq should be lifted on state buildings in the province.
The approved draft resolution by the Iraqi parliament was requested by Kirkuk Turkmen who were against raising the KRG flag.
Turkey on March 29 warned against “unilateral steps” after Kirkuk council’s vote and said it opposed flying the flag because it does not want to encourage any change in the composition of Kirkuk, which is also home to Turkmens.
Kirkuk is at the center of a long-running dispute over northern territory that the KRG authorities want to incorporate into their autonomous region, a move the federal government in Baghdad opposes.
Kirkuk is home to various religious and ethnic communities, some of which -- notably Arabs and Turkmen -- do not want to see the province under permanent Kurdish control.