Kurdistan parliament re-institutes presidency office two years after suspension

The Kurdistan Region legislature on Wednesday held a session for the third and final reading of a bill that reactivates the office of the president, suspended since late 2017.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region legislature on Wednesday held a session for the third and final reading of a bill that reactivates the office of the president, suspended since 2017.

On the agenda announced on Monday was the “voting on the ‘Proposed Bill on 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.’”

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 powers of the president have been delegated to the prime minister, parliamentary speaker, and the regional judiciary.

The Kurdistan Region previously held separate elections to select a president, but parliament seeks to alter this process for the time being in hopes of facilitating the formation of a new regional government. According to the stated plan, this process would continue until parliament is able to ratify its constitution for the Kurdistan Region, which would outline the official procedure for appointments to the post and the powers it would wield.

The Kurdistan Region held its parliamentary election on Sept. 30, with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) securing 45 seats in the 111-seat legislature. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran) came in second and third place with 21 and 12 seats, respectively.

Signed by 68 lawmakers, the proposed bill was first introduced in early April. Following the first reading, parliament postponed the date for subsequent ones and a vote on the matter amid ongoing disputes by runner-up parties over their allotment of posts in the future government.

However, the deadlock came to an end after the KDP signed a decisive deal with the PUK on Sunday, kickstarting the process to finally form a new government, which the KDP has delegated Masrour Barzani, the current Kurdish security chief, to head.

The members of the influential parliamentary legal committee on Tuesday held a meeting to discuss the details of the bill and agreed that the president would have two deputies, which would go to runner-up parties, Gorran and the PUK.

According to the committee report, the president would decide the responsibilities of his deputies, an issue that has been a serious point of contention between the two sides, which hampered government formation efforts for weeks. The board then submitted the final draft of the bill to parliament.

Kurdistan 24 has learned that the PUK would soon decide on its candidate for the speakership of the legislature, which has been reserved for the party but held temporarily by a KDP lawmaker after the PUK boycotted parliamentary sessions amid disputes over government formation.

During the session, Lawmakers approved the proposal to re-institute the presidency office with a majority vote.

Following this, parliament will vote in the PUK candidate and later accept candidates for the post of president.

Editing by Nadia Riva