KDP, PUK agree on new Kurdistan government, president, Kirkuk governor

The top Kurdish parties on Friday reached an agreement on forming the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and allocation of the posts of regional president and governor of the disputed province of Kirkuk.
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The top Kurdish parties on Friday reached an agreement on forming the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and allocation of the posts of regional president and governor of the disputed province of Kirkuk.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Spokesperson Mahmoud Mohammed announced the deal during a joint press conference with his counterpart from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Saadi Pira, held after a meeting between the two parties in Sulaimani to finalize negotiations on both local and regional topics.

“We as the KDP had already reviewed and approved the draft agreement, but the PUK will tomorrow hold a meeting to do some additional consultation and make the final decision. Later, we will [officially] sign the agreement in a ceremony,” Mohammed told reporters.

The two Kurdish spokespersons did not offer specific details about the deal but kept their comments to assertions that they had resolved all the issues between them.

Pira noted that the KDP and the PUK had decided to elect the Kirkuk'a new governor based on the two parties’ joint agreement. Since the two parties have a majority in Kirkuk's Provincial Council, they are able to nominate the governor.

Regarding the PUK’s recent insistence that one of its members fill the still-vacant federal Iraqi Justice Minister post, the party’s spokesperson said the case will be determined by KDP head Masoud Barzani and the PUK. 

Pira also added that his party’s 21 lawmakers will attend the Kurdistan Region’s parliament session on Monday when the body’s leadership will be elected.

The KDP, with 45 seats, was the winner of September's regional election. The Kurdistan Region has a unicameral legislature with 111 seats, with five seats each reserved for Turkmen and Christian parties and one seat for an Armenian party.

The KDP nominated Masrour Barzani, the current Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) as the new Prime Minister to form the new KRG cabinet.

The post of the Kurdistan Region's presidency has been suspended since November 2017 when then-President Masoud Barzani announced he would end his already-extended term in the wake of the referendum and as Kurdish parties failed to reach agreement on a date for the next regional election.

The KDP aims to re-activate the post soon and had already nominated Nechirvan Barzani, the current prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, for the post.

The oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk has been at the heart of another dispute between the two leading parties over the past few years, especially after Iraqi forces and Shia militias attacked and took over Kirkuk and other disputed territories on Oct. 16, 2017 in response to the referendum, pushing Kurdish Peshmerga forces from them.

Kirkuk's population is made up of Turkmens, Arabs, Christians, and a Kurdish majority. Since Oct. 2017, the province had been administered by Iraqi federal government and Acting Governor Rakan Saeed, whom Kurdish parties have repeatedly accused of carrying out a systematic campaign to change the demography of Kirkuk with a program of Arabization.  

Editing by John J. Catherine