ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Members of both leading political parties in the Kurdistan Region have announced plans to face other political groups as a united front in negotiations aimed at forming the next Iraqi government.
Kurdistan Patriotic Union (PUK) spokesman Saadi Ahmed Pira, speaking to Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday, said his group and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are developing a single package of demands to present in Baghdad.
The talks come as Iraq is mired in an electoral crisis amid widespread claims of voter fraud in parliamentary elections held on May 12.
Kurdish demands include "implementation of the constitution, partnership, balance in the government, and resolving the budget issue," Pira stated.
Calls from Kurdish officials to "implement" Iraq's constitution refer to Article 140, added as a result of intractable differences over territories disputed by Iraq's federal government and the KRG. The provision was introduced to allow the 2005 ratification of the constitution by kicking decisions on disputed territories down the road, but to the chagrin of Kurds, it has awaited implementation for over a decade.
Shwan Mohammed, head of the KDP’s Baghdad branch and recently part of its post-election delegation to the Iraqi capital, stated that his party has "carefully studied" the plans and programs of various Iraqi parties concerning government formation.
While two delegations from the parties visited Baghdad separately in late May, members held a press conference together, in which they highlighted the importance of unity among the Kurdish parties in dealing with Baghdad.
Secretary of the KDP's Political Bureau Fazil Mirani said that, in a meeting with the US Consul General in Erbil, he stressed the importance of Kurdish unity to defend the constitutional rights of the people of Kurdistan.
Mirani echoed others' claims that both parties would face others as one and invited all other Kurdish parties to "overcome their differences and work in unity towards defending the rights of the Kurdish people" in Baghdad.
Currently, tensions are high between various political factions in the Kurdistan Region, with several of them rejecting national election results.
On Tuesday, a joint KDP/PUK statement welcomed a new alliance between the top two vote-getting coalitions, one led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the other by Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia leader Hadi al-Amiri.
“We as the politburo of the PUK and the KDP view this step positively," read the statement. "We believe it is the beginning of a good political roadmap and alliance to pass the current political turmoil."
Editing by John J. Catherine