ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s parliament scheduled an extra meeting on Sunday in an unexpected extension to its spring session amid ongoing disputes between leading parties over a range of issues, including the formation of the region’s future cabinet.
The legislative body called on all MPs to attend the meeting in a statement posted on its website, signed by Acting Speaker Vala Fareed. The process of filling the senior posts in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been slow, as party leaders have repeatedly failed to achieve a compromise.
Nearly eight months after regional elections were held, lawmakers in late May voted in Nechirvan Barzani as the president of the Kurdistan Region after they re-institutionalized the post and changed the mechanism for its election through a vote in the legislature instead of a direct one by the public, at least until the ratification of a regional constitution.
The president’s office has been vacant since late 2017 when Masoud Barzani stepped down following the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum. The central government in Baghdad responded to the referendum by ordering its security forces, along with Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, to attack Iraq's disputed territories, forcing the withdrawal of the Kurdish Peshmerga and then governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim.
Since then, the fragile alliance between the two leading Kurdish parties of the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), broke down almost completely as the PDK accused PUK leaders of cooperating with Baghdad's takeover.
In recent months, the two parties have announced several agreements to form the next government, the situation in Kirkuk, and governmental posts in Baghdad, but have so far been unable to reach a meaningful resolution.
Both sides were able to agree on Farouq Amin Shwani—a PUK member—to take the role of Minister of Justice in Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet. It had earlier been decided that a Kurdish candidate would hold the post, and as such, the KDP and PUK had to nominate a single candidate to fill it.
Though, when the time came to finally settle on a candidate to take the governorship of Kirkuk—which has been occupied by a Baghdad-installed bureaucrat whom Kurds accuse of flaming ethnic tensions—the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) failed to reach consensus.
The PUK has a larger number of seats in the KPC and has said the post of governor belongs to them as it has in the past, while the KDP has maintained that the province should not be handed to the PUK because of its alleged involvement in the post-referendum events.
Editing by John J. Catherine