ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The party formerly known as the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) on Friday voted in a new leader shortly after changing its name, following a period of disarray as a consequence of its founder Barham Salih abandoning the post to seek the Iraqi presidency.
Aram Qadir took the head position in the newly-minted National Coalition (NC) in an election held at a party convention in Erbil attended by some 350 members. The party was planning to write a new mission statement and structure for itself after putting up the question of whether or not keep operating as a political entity at all.
In a public vote, an overwhelming majority voted against dismantling the party and 189 members voted in favor of changing the party’s name to NC.
"I thank all who gave me their vote of confidence to lead the party in its next phase," said Qadir in a press conference following his appointment.
Salih formed his own bloc – the CDJ – in September 2017 and was able to secure two seats in Iraq's May 12 national election. Until then, he was the Deputy Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) but resigned due to the party’s internal turmoil namely over the absence of its late leader, Jalal Talabani.
However, on Sep. 19, he surprised observers by abandoning the CDJ and rejoining the PUK to be their official candidate for the Iraqi president. On Oct. 2, he was officially elected to the top Kurdish-allotted position in the federal government.
"We want to leave behind the past and look to the future from now on," Qadir stated. "For the next four years, we have a powerful program to recover from the previous damaging stage."
In a joint statement before the vote, the party's two MPs in Baghdad stated their support for the decisions of their fellow members, adding that they are still in contact with Salih and support his programs hoping to serve the people of Iraq and Kurdistan Region as part of the new national government.
Qadir is from the Kurdistan Region's Hawraman area in Halabja Province. He has a master's degree in political science and has been an active politician since the late 1980s. Qadir was head of the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) faction in the Kurdish region's parliament between 2009 and 2013. He later left the party and participated in founding the CDJ.
Editing by John J. Catherine