ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkmens prepare to participate in the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and are demanding key posts in the new cabinet and Kurdistan Parliament after failing to secure one from the federal government of Iraq in Baghdad.
Turkmens in Iraq’s May 12 national election won three seats out of total 329, all of them acquired in the oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk. In the 111-seat regional parliament of Kurdistan, they hold five quota-allocated seats.
Over the past few months, they have repeatedly asked the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to assign them a ministerial post. Up until now, their demands have gone unheeded, with the cabinet in Baghdad yet to be finalized.
Turkmens in the Kurdistan Region have several parties, but following the election, decided to unite their efforts to secure key posts in the government and parliament.
On Thursday, the parties met in Erbil to discuss the positions for which they will negotiate with the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which won 45 seats and is working to form the new cabinet.
“This time, Turkmens have decided to actively participate in the government and secure key posts,” Emad Raf’at, a Turkmen member of the Erbil Provincial Council, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday after the meeting.
“In parliament, if the Speaker and first deputy are men, the second deputy should be a woman. We have our candidates for either eventually [for the post of second deputy],” he argued.
Regarding governmental posts, Raf’at stated that in addition to a ministerial role, they would be vying for positions in the Mine Affairs or Environmental Commission. According to the Turkmen member, they would also like to have their representative in the High Council for Women’s Affairs.
Muna Kahveci, a Turkmen lawmaker in the Kurdistan Parliament, stated that they are waiting for the KDP delegation to discuss the posts in question.
“We have asked the KDP for a leadership post in parliament, more specifically, the second deputy speaker,” Kahveci told Kurdistan 24. She is one of the Turkmen parties’ main candidates for the position.
Aydin Marouf, another lawmaker from the minority group in the Kurdistan Parliament, mentioned they had also asked for a second deputy to the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region to be added and given to the Turkmen minority. This has been a point of contention among some political parties, namely the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the runner-up for the Sep. 30 election in which they secured 21 seats.
PUK officials previously told Kurdistan 24 that adding a second deputy would be an “unnecessary move” and would “only add expenditures to the government.”
Kurdistan 24 learned that the new Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region will have a Turkmen adviser who will be responsible for minority affairs.
The KDP delegation is yet to officially announce who will be the new premier and form the latest KRG cabinet.
Editing by Nadia Riva