ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, on Saturday held a series of meetings with six different Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to discuss the formation of the new government and consider nominees for the post of President of Iraq.
The Kurdish official’s visit came hours after meeting the newly-elected Parliament Speaker of Iraq, Mohammed al-Halbousi, in Erbil.
Barzani, who is also the deputy head of the Kurdistan Region’s leading party - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) - first met with Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Hikma (Wisdom) movement, whose party won 19 seats in the May 12 elections.
On the agenda were subjects related to the current political situation in Iraq: stability, public services, unresolved issues between Erbil and Baghdad, and the Iraqi constitution, according to Barzani’s press office.
The two Sunni and Shia parties highlighted the need for a representational, balanced government, which would operate on consensus and rely on cross-sectarian partnerships to govern Iraq, in a way that involves all components of the country.
Barzani also met incumbent Prime Minister of Iraq and head of Nasr (Victory) coalition, Haider al-Abadi, whose alliance came in third in the election with 42 seats.
The two premiers discussed the state of relations between Erbil and Baghdad, and how a new government of Iraq would work to address the concerns of the people regarding security, reconstruction efforts, and employment.
The election of Iraq’s President and Prime Minister, as well as the implementation of the Iraqi Constitution, were also on the agenda for the meeting with Abadi, who is likely unable to secure a second term as head of state.
Both party leaders agreed that Iraq’s new government should be able to combat future threats and protect the achievements and victories gained by the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
The top Kurdish official also met with the vice-President of Iraq and head of State of Law Coalition, Nouri al-Maliki, who won 26 seats in the spring vote.
In his meeting with Maliki, Barzani lobbied further on the formation of the new Iraqi government and the post of President of Iraq, which traditionally goes to the Kurds.
According to analysts, the Kurds will have the “main word” in choosing the next prime minister because they are the swing vote between the Shia blocs.
As such, Barzani also met Iraqi Shia leader Falih al-Fayyad and Hadi al-Amiri, a prominent Shia militia commander and the head of al-Fatih (Conquest) Coalition, whose alliance secured 48 seats in the Iraqi parliament, coming in close second to influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Coalition.
Once more, parties were in agreement regarding the need for cooperation between Iraqi parties, to preserve the principles of fair and inclusive representation in Iraq, as well as securing and protecting the rights of all components in the country.
Barzani’s last meeting was with Ayad Allawi, the head of al-Wataniya, with 21 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
For the two more secular parties, to be successful, the new government of Iraq would require the ability to properly handle the multitude of challenges the country faces and adequately represent the interest of all minorities and peoples of Iraq.
According to the traditional 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.
Despite the elections being held in May, a mired vote-counting process and complicated political landscape have pushed the formation of a new government down the line, with competing factions failing to reach an agreement and resume work to address the country’s growing public service and unemployment crisis, notably in the southern Basra province.
Iraq’s new lawmakers have only recently been able to choose a parliamentary speaker and his deputies, triggering the countdown for the Iraqi presidency and prime ministership’s constitutionally-mandated appointment deadline.
Editing by Nadia Riva