ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Lawmakers from two leading parties in the Kurdistan Region Parliament said on Wednesday that a regional constitution would resolve the controversy surrounding the now-vacant presidential post and clarify its role.
“The first task for the next parliament must be drafting a constitution for Kurdistan,” Fursat Sofi, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) told Kurdistan 24 in Erbil, just following a session.
Such a document would not replace Iraq's federal constitution, but rather work within it to establish fundamentals of governance specific to the Kurdistan Region.
“The constitution has to decide… the extent of the powers of the region’s president, whether it should remain or be abolished,” said Sofi.
The position has been vacant since Nov. 1, 2017, 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.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) also called for cooperation across party lines to step up efforts to complete drafting and then ratify a constitution.
“Because Kurdish political parties don’t engage in democratic discourse [to settle disputes]… we have not been able to reach consensus on the issue,” Dler Mawati, head of the PUK's bloc in parliament told Kurdistan 24.
In Wednesday's session, lawmakers voted in favor of keeping active the law that freezes the presidential post and divides its powers among different branches of government until two years after the next parliament is sworn in. At this point, the resolution suggests, lawmakers should settle the issue.
MPs from the KDP, PUK, and Gorran party voted in favor of the bill, while those from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) voted against it.
Shortly before Wednesday's vote, the KIU demanded that parliament abolish the post, while the KIG pushed for holding presidential elections in September.
Lawmakers also voted 44 to 16 that day in favor of holding parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, but not a presidential vote on the same day, as the KIG and some other parties had lobbied for.
Editing by John J. Catherine