Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday called for joint administration for the disputed areas with the region of Kurdistan under Baghdad command, warning of military buildup by the Kurds in the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
“We call for the administration of the disputed areas to be run jointly and by a federal (central government) command,” Abadi said at a press conference after his weekly cabinet meeting. reports Xinhua.
Abadi also warned that the Kurds’ military buildup in Kirkuk province is a “dangerous step,” adding that taking control of the province is “unconstitutional.”
“Imposing fait accompli in the disputed areas (including Kirkuk) by force is unacceptable,” Abadi said.
Abadi’s comment came hours after the Kurdish regional electoral commission set Nov. 1 to be the date for holding parliamentary and presidential elections in the Kurdistan region.
“All preparations have been finalized for the elections of the parliament and the president of Kurdistan region, which will be held on the same day of Nov. 1,” said Hindren Mohammed, head of the commissioner council of the regional Independent High Election and Referendum Commission.
Mohammed did not say whether the disputed areas are included in the elections or not. If they do so, the move would anger the central government in Baghdad, which is already upset by the controversial independence referendum held earlier on Sept. 25 in the semi-autonomous region and the disputed areas outside the region.
Disagreements between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government have been high for years, as the ethnic Kurds consider the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin provinces as disputed areas and want them to be incorporated into their region, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs and Turkomans and by Baghdad government.
Tensions have been running high between Baghdad government and the Kurdish region after the region held a controversial referendum on independence of Kurdistan and disputed areas, including Kirkuk.
The independence referendum was opposed by many countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and it could undermine fight against Islamic State militants.
In addition, neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as large populations of Kurds live in those countries.