KDP publishes deal signed with PUK in row over boycott of presidential election

The Kurdistan Region’s leading party on Sunday published the full deal it signed with its main rival, accusing the latter of violating agreed-upon terms following a boycott...
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s leading party on Sunday published the full deal it signed with its main rival, accusing the latter of violating agreed-upon terms following a boycott of last Tuesday’s parliamentary session in which the President of the Kurdistan Region was elected.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), with 45 seats out of the 111-seat parliament, is the largest party in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, followed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), with 21.

Following last year’s Sept. 30 parliamentary election, the two parties inked several bilateral agreements regarding the formation of the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its cabinet, the situation in the disputed province of Kirkuk, and governmental posts in Baghdad, but disagreements persist.

On Tuesday, the Kurdistan Parliament held a special session to elect the new President of the Kurdistan Region. Based on agreements the KDP signed with the PUK and Gorran (Change) Movement, members of each party were expected to vote for the KDP candidate, Nechirvan Barzani.

Although Barzani was elected as President, securing 68 votes out of the 81 members who attended, the PUK - in a surprise move - boycotted the session moments before it was set to begin.

In the aftermath of the session and vote, the PUK’s parliamentary faction accused the KDP of violating agreements they had inked regarding the situation in Kirkuk and posts in Baghdad, namely the nomination of a new Kirkuk governor. The KDP has denied those allegations, prompting the release of details of the 18-point agreement. 

The attack and military takeover of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Oct. 16, 2017, which drove the Kurdish Peshmerga forces out of the area, has been the main source of animosity between the two parties as the Iraqi government subsequently ousted Kurdish Governor Najmaldin Karim.

Indeed, since then, the PUK has been trying to get a new governor elected in Kirkuk, with the situation in the province deteriorating week by week. However, lacking the support of the KDP, their efforts have remained unsuccessful.

The KDP has said it would support any Kurdish candidate for the post of governor but those who “betrayed” Kirkuk and “helped to hand over” the province to Iraqi forces and Shia militias.

Within the political sphere, most fingers are directed to a particular group of PUK leaders who reportedly cooperated with Iraqi forces and Shia militias to facilitate the takeover. The PUK’s acting leader, Kosrat Rasul, affirmed the blame rested with that group in a statement following the attack.

On Saturday, the spokesperson for the KDP, Mahmoud Mohammed, told reporters in Erbil that the agreement regarding the timeline for the election of a new governor for Kirkuk was “in parallel to the formation of the KRG cabinet,” not the election of the President.

“Therefore, the PUK politburo violated the agreement that had been signed between the two parties by boycotting the parliamentary session,” Mohammed asserted.

The KDP on Sunday published the full details of the inked deal, which also outlined the election process for the new Kirkuk Governor.

“In parallel to the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government, necessary steps will be taken starting from March 3, 2019, to resolve

Kirkuk Province’s issues, including the election of a new Governor based on an agreement between Masoud Barzani [KDP President] and Kosrat Rasul,” the published document read, signed by both the KDP and the PUK.

The KDP and PUK agreement [in Kurdish] on issues related to the Kirkuk province and governorship, signed on March 4, 2019. (Photo: KDP)
The KDP and PUK agreement [in Kurdish] on issues related to the Kirkuk province and governorship, signed on March 4, 2019. (Photo: KDP)

Both Barzani and Rasul agreed on Faraidoon Abdulqadir, a former PUK member, as their sole candidate for the post of Kirkuk Governor, Mohammed stated.

Kirkuk, an oil-rich and ethnically diverse province, is one of the disputed territories claimed by both the KRG and the federal government of Iraq.

The security situation in the province has considerably deteriorated since the Oct.16 attack, with the Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC) failing to convene as most of its members have fled to the Kurdistan Region, fearing political retribution at the hands of militias.

Over the past few months, the PUK has pressed the KDP for negotiations on the formation of the new KRG cabinet, the Kirkuk situation, and Baghdad posts to be an all-in-one package deal. In response, the KDP has signaled it believes the situations in Kirkuk and Baghdad are separate and unrelated issues that should be independently tackled so as not to cause further delays in the formation of the new KRG cabinet.

Editing by Nadia Riva