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Published On: Wed, Apr 19th, 2017

Iraqi Kurdish PUK, Gorran and KDP in Dispute over Parliamentiary Approval of Referendum

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nsnbc : The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region dealt a below to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) when it declared that holding an independence referendum in Kurdistan cannot be realized without reactivating the now-paralyzed Kurdish parliament and seeking solutions for the outstanding political problems.

PUK rally during the 2013 elections (archives)

PUK rally during the 2013 elections (archives)

The PUK, which has joined arms with its ally, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), to form a multi-party committee tasked with setting the time frame and mechanism for the referendum, says that they made their view clear to the KDP leadership in their last meeting held earlier in the month. In a statement released on Tuesday the PUK stressed that:

“The position of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is clear in this regard that without solving the political problems and reactivating the parliament, and without a national consensus, the process of referendum cannot be held. … Also, no issue should be sidelined at the expense of another issue, because from an objective point of view after the full defeat of ISIS, a sensitive situation will come about that requires resolving all the issues simultaneously.”

The Party stressed that discussions about the mechanism of the referendum are ongoing and have not been finalized. The statement was issued in response to remarks by Hoshyar Siwaily, the head of the KDP’s head of the foreign relations office. Siwaili told the weekly Kurdish Awene that the the PUK’s politburo office, like the KDP, believes that reactivating the Kurdish parliament is not needed. Siwaily told the newspaper published on Tuesday, as he was asked whether the PUK is with reactivating the parliament or not as a pre-condition to the referendum that:

“The majority of the politburo members of the PUK are with the view that the parliament should not be reactivated and to hold the referendum this year, and it is on this base that they had formed a delegation which started discussion with the KDP to hold referendum.”  

The KDP and the PUK leadership met on April 11 in Erbil to discuss the referendum without the basically sidelined Gorran Party/Movement whose leader has been expelled when the parliament was suspended. Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, both from the KDP, and Kurdistan’s Vice President Kosrat Rasul from the PUK, among others, took part in the hours-long meeting.

The conclusion was reached to form a committee, consisting of seven political parties, five major Kurdish parties, plus two seats reserved for the Turkmen and Christian minorities. The committee has not been set up yet due to major political differences, especially between the KDP and the Gorran (Change) movement. The KDP is of the view that approval from the Kurdish parliament is not needed to call the referendum.

The Kurdish parliament has not convened since October 2015 when the security forces in Erbil, largely under the control of the KDP, blocked the speaker, a Gorran party member, from returning to the capital where the parliament is located. Gorran, which is the second-biggest party in Kurdistan in terms of seats in the parliament, along with the Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group (Komal) — all members of the Kurdish coalition government — say they are in favor of the referendum, but it must have a mandate from the parliament.

F/AK & CHL – nsnbc 19.04.2017

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