ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Members of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) on Wednesday called for abolishing the region's post of president after parties failed to agree on holding elections in September.
At a press conference in front of the parliament building, head of KIU's parliamentary bloc Bahzad Zebari told reporters that the Kurdistan Region's Presidency had become a source of serious problems in the semi-autonomous region.
"Due to the issue of the presidency, the Kurdistan Region Parliament was suspended for two years," Zebari said, standing with other party lawmakers.
The position has been vacant since Nov. 1, when Masoud Barzani stepped down following the region's independence referendum. It should not be confused with the separate post of national president, held by a Kurd in Iraq's system of power-sharing.
Zebari suggested two options: hold presidential and parliamentary elections in September or abolish the post entirely.
"The current political and economic situation in the Kurdistan Region can no longer stand, with the post of president remaining empty, he said, as lawmakers from other parties were arriving to attend Wednesday's parliamentary session to discuss the topic.
Since Barzani's November resignation, the powers of the presidency have been distributed to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister (Executive), Parliament (Legislative), and judiciary, until the next presidential election takes place.
Amina Zikri, a lawmaker from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), told Kurdistan 24 that her faction in parliament had supported holding elections on time in September and had its own candidate to put forth. Other parties, she said, were not ready and had no candidates.
For this reason, she explained, they prepared a bill for the parliament to continue freezing presidential powers until the next election. This would allow time to build enough consensus among parliamentary blocs to complete and pass a regional constitution that clearly defines the powers of the president.
Over the past decade, factions in the Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil have failed to approve a regional constitution, though efforts to ratify it by members of nearly all its parties continue.
According to Zikri, most lawmakers support the postponement of the presidential election.
Unlike the parliamentary system of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region has so far so far been ruled by a hybrid version of both presidential and parliamentary systems.
While the post of President of Iraq is chosen by Baghdad's parliament and is largely symbolic, the Kurdistan Regional President is an elected position that holds executive power.
Editing by John J. Catherine