ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Lawmakers in the Kurdistan Region’s parliament on Thursday introduced a long-awaited bill to reinstitute the suspended post of regional president, an MP from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) told the media.
The KDP, along with its legislative allies, “submitted a bill for the reactivation of the presidency… amending the method of electing a president until the ratification of a [regional] constitution,” said Omed Khoshnaw, head of the KDP caucus in the Kurdistan parliament, during a press conference.
The briefing came following a meeting between the heads of the KDP bloc, its allies in the legislature, and the parliament’s leadership, during which they submitted the proposal. It is still unclear when lawmakers will convene in an ordinary session to vote on the proposed bill.
Khoshnaw said that 68 lawmakers had put their voices behind the bill, which after being passed, he explained, would give parliament the authority to “elect a president.” The KDP has already announced its nomination of outgoing Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for the post.
The presidency of the Kurdistan Region had been suspended in November 2017 when 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 the regional elections.
Since then, the powers of the Kurdistan Region Presidency have been delegated to the prime minister and parliament speaker.
Once a new president is elected, he would call upon the leading coalition to name its candidate for the premiership—for which the KDP has nominated the region’s incumbent security chief Masrour Barzani— who would then go on to form the future regional government.
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 the new government. According to the stated plan, this process would continue until parliament is able to ratify its regional constitution, which would outline the official procedure for appointments to the post and the powers it would wield.
The Kurdistan Region has a unicameral legislature with 111 seats, five each reserved for Turkmen and Christian parties and one to be held by a member of an Armenian party.
In the September regional elections, the KDP won 45 seats to take first place, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) came in second with 21. The Change (Gorran) Movement secured 12 seats and was the second runner-up.
The KDP is currently allied with Gorran and the minority parties, all of which have approved the bill on the presidency. The PUK, however, is holding out for something of a grand bargain on issues not directly related to regional government formation, with negotiations aimed at reaching an alliance with the KDP not yet yielding concrete results.
Editing by John J Catherine
(Correction: An earlier version of this piece said that the bill included an article for the ratification of a constitution)