ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Parliament on Tuesday, by majority vote, elected Nechirvan Barzani as the new President of the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
Barzani received 68 votes out of a possible total of 111 in the Kurdistan Parliament. His four other rivals received no votes.
The session was attended by 81 lawmakers as members of both the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Naway Nwe (New Generation) were absent, accounting for 29 votes that were not cast.
In November 2017, then-President Masoud Barzani announced he would end his already-extended term in the aftermath of the referendum on independence and as Kurdish parties failed to agree on a date for regional elections. Since then, the Kurdistan Region Presidency has been suspended and powers of the president have been delegated to the prime minister, parliamentary speaker, and the regional judiciary.
On May 8, lawmakers passed a draft bill entitled, “The Reactivation of the Office of the President of the Kurdistan Region – Iraq and Amending the Method of Electing the President till the Ratification of a Constitution.”
Key provisions in the new law outline how the president is to be elected. Until now, the position was determined directly by the people through a popular vote. The amendment, however, changed the mechanism, and instead handed the decision-making process to parliament, where the winner must achieve a 50+1 majority.
Nechirvan Barzani is the deputy head of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). During the Sept. 30 parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region, the KDP increased its number of seats to 45, with the PUK winning 21 seats, and Gorran (Change) Movement securing 12.
Born in 1966, Barzani was elected as the deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region in 1996. He was elected as Prime Minister in 1999 and 2006. He continued serving after subsequently being re-elected to the post in 2011 and 2013, until May 28, 2019.
He is married and has five children.
In addition to his native tongue of Kurdish, Barzani speaks English, Persian, and is proficient in Arabic.
Editing by Nadia Riva