Wednesday, June 19, 2019

New Kurdish Govt Moving Forward Despite KDP-PUK Split

Nechirvan Barzani the new KRG President (KRG)

On June 10 Nechirvan Barzani was named as the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) president. The next day his cousin Masrour Barzani was named as the regional prime minister. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) boycotted the session where the president was elected because of its continued disputes with the Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Since the 1990s when Kurdistan became an autonomous region the KDP and PUK have shared power. Now however, the KDP no longer believes in that arrangement, which is holding up the formation of the new KRG.

The KRG held elections for a new parliament in September 2018, but nine months later there is still no government due to the PUK-KDP dispute. In the vote, the KDP won a plurality of 45 seats. The party received the most seats in the previous election as well. That has led the KDP to move away from its traditional power sharing approach to demand that it should hold all the top positions in the new administration. That has greatly angered the PUK, which has said it will not accept being a second fiddle to the KDP’s lead. The result has been a number of agreements that were never followed through with as the two sides bargain and argue. The KDP is demanding a change in the rules that the two parties have followed for over 20 years. In the past, this was done to avoid a repeat of the civil war that broke out between the two parties in the 1990s. Now there is fear that the two will run separate administrations in the provinces that they control if this split is not resolved.

After the president and premier have been the named the main issue between the two parties is the governorship of Kirkuk, a position that the PUK has traditionally held. The Patriotic Union said that it is waiting for the KDP to make an offer over Kirkuk. The problem is the PUK is facing its own internal divisions, and it can’t agree upon a candidate for the governorship either. Kosrat Rasul who is part of the leadership came up with 3 names but then the party couldn’t agree upon them. Since PUK founder former Jalal Talabani passed away the party has been wracked by internal divisions. That was another reason why the KDP pushed to be the dominant power because the PUK was in disarray. The fact that it can’t even find a consensus on the governorship probably means that talks with the KDP over finishing the new KRG will continue for many more weeks.


Agence France Presse, “Iraq Kurds name president’s cousin as their new PM,” 6/11/19

eKurd, “KDP, PUK reach agreement on new Kurdistan government formation: spokesperson,” 4/3/19
- “PUK, KDP sign agreement on Iraqi Kurdistan government formation,” 3/4/19

International Crisis Group, “After Iraqi Kurdistan’s Thwarted Independence Bid,” 3/27/19

Rudaw, “Nechirvan Barzani elected Kurdistan Region president,” 5/28/19
- “PUK refuses to be shut out of significant roles in next government,” 3/17/19

Tahir, Rawaz, Hussein, Mohammed, “Kurdistan begins government formation despite unresolved divisions,” Iraq Oil Report, 5/29/19

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