ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The leading parties in the Kurdistan Region have put forward efforts to expedite the formation of the new local government and establishment of the new parliamentary leadership, with minorities seeking to secure posts.
In late September, the autonomous Kurdistan Region held its parliamentary election, with parties competing for control of the 111-seat assembly. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) won the election after securing 45 seats and trailing behind was the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), with 21 seats, and Gorran (Change) with 12.
While the top two parties are busy negotiating over various posts in parliament and within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), minority groups, namely the Turkmens and Christians, are vying for the position of second deputy parliamentary speaker.
“We are waiting for the delegates of the KDP to visit us to know their position and the posts they will offer us as the Turkmen group,” Muna Kahveci, a Turkmen lawmaker in the Kurdistan Parliament, told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday. She is one of the candidates hoping to become a deputy parliamentary speaker.
The Kurdistan Parliament had reserved 11 “quota” seats for minorities, five of which are for Turkmens, five for Christians, and one for Armenians.
The Turkmens have different parties, but in the last election, ran under a single electoral list. Their demands for the parliamentary deputy speaker post come after they failed to secure a ministerial position in the newly formed federal government of Iraq or a leadership post in the Parliament in Baghdad.
Kahveci also rejected a proposal which would have them share the post of second deputy parliamentary speaker with the Christians, each holding the position for two years, labeling it “unfair” to minorities.
“We believe whichever minority group gets the post should be able to hold it for the full four years.”
Alternatively, Chaldeans and Assyrians, who are usually designated by their religion - Christians - are also competing for the post, but indicate they have no “real issue” with the Turkmen minority group over the open position.
Romeo Hakkari, the leader of the Assyrian Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, claimed the parties suggested a “better plan” that would leave both minority groups satisfied.
“We have asked the leading party [KDP] to create a ministry in the new government for minority affairs in the Kurdistan Region. In this case, whichever group wins the Parliament Speaker’s second deputy post, the other gets to head the ministry,” Hakkari told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday.
“In any case, I don’t believe there will be any problems between us [Christians] and the Turkmen group, but it is better to determine [these roles] from the very beginning,” he added.
Over four months have passed since the parliamentary election was held in the Kurdistan Region, with negotiations between the leading parties still ongoing.
On Tuesday, both the KDP and the PUK agreed to resume the first parliamentary session on Feb. 18 to elect a speaker and the two deputies after the inaugural November session was suspended indefinitely.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Nawras Abdullah)