ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s leading party suggested on Saturday that it might try to attain the post of Iraqi president, held by another for nearly 13 years.
“The KDP is the most deserving [Kurdish] party for the presidency, because of the number of seats it has won in comparison to its main rival,” Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Spokesperson Mahmoud Mohammad said, referring to parliament seats secured in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary election.
Widespread claims of fraud have led to a decision to hold a partial manual recount of votes, making it unclear if the current number of seats now claimed by winning parties will remain the same.
“This time, it is the KDP’s right to choose the person for the Presidency of Iraq, and deserves to take the post,” Mohammad told reporters in a press conference in Erbil following a meeting of his party.
According to the system of power-sharing in Iraq, the Prime Minister's post is held by a member of the Shia community, a Sunni Iraqi is speaker of parliament, and a Kurd holds the presidency, a largely ceremonial position.
Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was the President of Iraq from 2005 until 2014. He suffered a stroke in 2012 and died in 2017. Since 2014, Fuad Masum, another PUK figure, has held the post.
The KDP, led by Masoud Barzani, is the fifth largest party in Iraq and the first in the Kurdistan Region, according to the disputed results released by the nation's electoral commission.
The party won 25 seats while the PUK won 18 seats out of a total 329 seats in the Baghdad Parliament.
Since 2005, the two parties ran in Iraqi parliamentary elections as a joint list, but in May, they ran as two independent lists for the first time.
The KDP spokesperson also explained that the post of Iraqi Presidency should be a subject for dialogue with the PUK, noting that the two parties will not go to Baghdad separately, but rather as a joint delegation to discuss government formation. Mohammad also stated that his party's doors were open for other Kurdish parties to join them in negotiations with Iraqi blocs.
On the same day, however, the KDP met with delegations from two major Iraqi political coalitions with the announced plan to talk about the next government.
There have been some reports that Kurds may this time prefer the post of Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker rather than the presidential post. However, most of the indicators show the Kurds’ attachment to the presidential post, despite being one primarily of symbolism and honor versus substantial power.
Support from the Kurdish bloc in parliament will be crucial to gaining the seats needed for any alliance attempting to garner sufficient support to successfully form a cabinet. The Kurds have played a pivotal role in naming former prime ministers.
Editing by John J. Catherine