Kurdish parties, Maliki attend Baghdad meeting on protests, new government
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A former Prime Minister and representatives of Kurdish parties, following a meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday, stressed the need to speed up the formation of the next government and to deal with concerns of protesters who have taken to the streets by the thousands in southern and central Iraq.
“We [the State of Law Coalition] share the same demands as our Kurdish brothers and sisters in the Kurdistan Region” as well as those of the “demonstrators in southern Iraq,” Nouri al-Maliki told Kurdistan 24.
The comments came after a meeting held in Iraq's Presidential Palace spearheaded by President Fuad Masum and attended by major political parties who discussed the current political situation in Iraq, the results of the May 12 national election, and the protests now raging in Iraq.
According to a statement released by Masum's office, the parties involved stressed that although they supported the rights of Iraqi to free demonstrations, they must refrain from acts of vandalism of public and private property, and "support for security forces' actions to counter aggressors and engineers seeking to exploit the demonstrations."
Maliki repeatedly made similar arguments while Prime Minister during his violent and sustained crackdown on protests in Baghdad in 2011.
For the past two weeks, a series of demonstrations sparked by high unemployment, poor public services, and the country’s crippling corruption have consumed several provinces of Iraq.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry put casualty figures for civilians so far at eight deaths and 56 injuries, though protest organizers claim they are in the hundreds. The Defense Ministry claimed that 262 members of the security forces members have been injured.
After Wednesday's meeting, senior Politburo member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Mala Bakhtiyar told Kurdistan 24, “In the recent events, the concerns of the people of Iraq are justified, and they are a culmination of the Iraqi government's past failures.”
Instances of violence, however, can be found in almost all mass demonstrations where the public are voicing worries about the future of their society, argued Bakhtiyar, as protests have turned violent in the past week.
Bakhtiyar led a PUK delegation in the latest joint visit to Baghdad with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), whose delegation was led by Fazil Mirani, who told reporters on Wednesday, “We asked the Electoral Commission to hurry the announcement of the official election results to hasten the process of government formation."
Due to widespread charges of fraud, Iraq's Supreme Court ratified a parliamentary resolution to hold a partial manual recount currently underway. During the recount, political entities of Iraq continue talks to form coalitions to lead the new government without knowing what the election's final results will be.
Bakhtiyar added, “So far, neither the Shia parties with the most seats have made an alliance, nor the Sunni parties. Only the leading parties in the Kurdistan Region have created a coalition.”
Said former Prime Minister Maliki, “We will get closer to the al-Fatih coalition," referring to the political faction led by Iranian-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, "and work towards building the largest coalition to form a government."
The attendees of the meeting also said they regretted that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was not present.
Editing by John J. Catherine