ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Just under six months after the Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary elections, the runner-up party has yet to reach a concrete deal with the leading one on the formation of the future government.
In an attempt to restart the process, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which holds 45 seats in the 111-seat legislature, seeks to reinstitute the now-suspended office of regional president.
The office has not existed since November 2017 when then-President Masoud Barzani announced he would end his already-extended term in the aftermath of the Kurdistan Region's 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 and parliamentary speaker.
“The efforts of the [KDP] are aimed toward amending the Kurdistan Region Presidency Law at the soonest [opportunity],” Rizgar Issa, a lawmaker from the party told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday. Upon ratification, Issa explained, the post will be reactivated, following which lawmakers will hold a session to vote on candidates put forth by their caucuses.
This appears to follows trends in recent years in Iraq's federal government in which disputes are sometimes resolved by the introduction – or in this case, resumption – of additional posts, allowing more party officials to secure positions and therefore kickstart stalled negotiations.
The KDP announced in late 2018 that it was nominating outgoing Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to take the post.
As is the case with the federal government, a president is charged upon being voted in to call on the largest parliamentary coalition to name its candidate to lead the government and form a cabinet within an allotted period of time. Lawmakers would then vote on the PM-designate’s cabinet.
The KDP has said it will present current Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani as its nominee.
To facilitate the process, the KDP has been negotiating with other Kurdish parties to increase the chances of a smooth transition. With 12 seats, the Change (Gorran) Movement is the third–place-holder and has said it has already agreed on a joint political program with the KDP for the next four years.
The KDP also signed what appears to have been a memorandum of understanding with runner-up Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which holds 21 seats. KDP politburo member Fazil Mirani said during a press conference on Wednesday that he "has heard" the PUK's demands to sign on for government formation, but gave no specific details.
PUK officials continue to insist that a comprehensive deal is first reached with the KDP, not only on regional posts but also for federal ones in Baghdad's still incomplete government formation following national elections held in May 2018. Sticking points include which party will secure the post of justice minister in Baghdad and the governorship of Kirkuk.
Editing by John J. Catherine