ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) - President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani called on the Regions' political parties to find a resolution to the presidency crisis in 2016.
In a New Year's message published on the presidency website, Masoud Barzani said he wanted the parties to agree on "a person" who could be the interim president until scheduled parliamentary elections in 2017 --a decision he would "fully support."
Barzani's presidential mandate expired last August without Kurdish parties reaching an agreement to extend his term or decide to hold elections. Parties are yet to propose an alternative agreed-upon candidate in a future election. The ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) demands a popular vote to be implemented, whereas the main opposition, Gorran (Change) Movement insists on a parliamentary vote.
Barzani said that the parties could alternatively reach a concession allowing him to remain president through 2017 as the war against the Islamic State (IS) group continues, and the Iraqi federal government continues to deny the Kurdistan Region its full constitutional share of the national budget.
Masoud Barzani was first elected president by the regional parliament in 2005. He was reelected in 2009, earning 70 percent of votes in a direct election. Parliament extended Barzani’s mandate for two more years in 2013, after an agreement between two main parties at the time, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
In his New Year's message, Barzani said, "what is important and sacred for me is being a Peshmerga," in reference to his long-time service as a Peshmerga commander.
"No matter what position or rank I hold, I will strive for the defence of Kurdistan and continue to work for the independence of my country," he added.
The president further stated that Peshmerga forces sacrificed a great deal of blood in 2015 protecting all civilians in Kurdistan irrespective of ethnicity and religion.
Promising to solve the political and economic crises the Region faces, Barzani said he will work with the government, parliament and political parties.
He also thanked the people of Kurdistan for "being resolute in the face of many crises, including the war against terror, [Baghdad's] budget cuts, and the hospitality shown to one million, eight hundred thousand refugees and [internally] displaced persons."
Barzani concluded his message with gratefulness to the fallen Peshmerga soldiers, war veterans who are recovering from injuries, and member countries allied with the US-led anti-IS coalition for their support to Kurdish forces.