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KDP strikes new government deals with Gorran and PUK
KDP deputy leader Nechirvan Barzani (L) and PUK acting leader Kosrat Rasul sign new agreement on government formation in Sulaimani, May 5, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has reached a final understanding regarding the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in separate deals signed with the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Sulaimani on Sunday.
Nechirvan Barzani, leading a delegation from the KDP, arrived in Sulaimani on Sunday morning to meet with the PUK and Gorran, hoping to end months of discussions over the formation of the next government.
“We have reached an understanding and we hope that in the next few days we will start the process of forming the next cabinet by initially reviving the Kurdistan presidency law,” KDP spokesperson Mahmoud Mohammed told reporters Sunday afternoon after the meeting between his party and Gorran.
The KDP first reached a deal with Gorran in February with Gorran agreeing to enter the government and pushing a package of institutional reforms.
“We have emphasized that the main issue in this agreement is reform in every field of power, administration and governance in particular in the unification of the Peshmerga force and Interior [Ministry] forces as well as the independence of the judiciary system,” said Gorran spokesperson Shoresh Haji at the Sunday press conference in Sulaimani.
Another of Gorran’s priorities is amending the presidency law, calling for the president to be elected by parliament not a public vote.
The government-formation process has dragged on for more than seven months. Parliamentary elections were held on September 30, 2018, with the KDP coming out on top, winning 45 seats in the 111-seat legislature, but not securing an outright majority. It has spent more than half a year trying to build a governing coalition with the PUK, which won 21 seats, and Gorran, which has 12 seats.
After signing its agreement with Gorran, KDP then arrived at a similar pact with the PUK in March, but disagreements over distributing cabinet positions lingered. Gorran and PUK also disagreed over the president's deputies.
PUK, which shares control of the security forces with the KDP, wanted the creation of a second deputy president who would be responsible for military affairs. Gorran, which does not have an armed force, objected, arguing that the new post would be a financial drain and, if created, should be solely an administrative position.
Speaking on Sunday, Haji said that, amid the disputes, forming the government must be the priority, for the sake of the people and the market.
"The interest of the Kurdish people and the revival of the bazaar is our main responsibility and we believe, given the circumstances which the wider region is facing, the sooner the government is formed is in the interest of the Kurdish people and the bazaar,” he said.
KDP’s Mohammed thanked Gorran “for being understanding in relation to our agreement.”
Gorran, which formed as a breakaway group from the PUK and has had on-and-off relations with its parent party, is depending on the KDP to bring the PUK on board.
“For a few months, we have not had any official relations with the PUK. Unofficially maybe we have received some messages, but there have been no official contacts,” Shunas Sherko, an official with Gorran’s diplomatic relations department, told Rudaw TV after the press conference.
“We hope that the PUK and Komal (Kurdistan Islamic Group) take part in the next cabinet, but given that the KDP is the main winner of the last election it is their responsibility to approach these parties,” he said.
Roadmap for reform
Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, founding President of the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) and former KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, told Rudaw the primary job of the new KRG is further unifying the Region and erasing past traces of division.
The new government has to set up a roadmap for the coming years to unify the Peshmerga and security forces, Ala’Aldeen argued.
Another roadmap that would redraw the governance of education, health and services is also necessary, he said.
“The biggest weakness of the Regional Government is its high centralization,” Ala’Aldeen said.
Striking an optimistic note, the analyst noted that all parties participating in the KRG have emphasized institutional reform.
“The four years will test whether they are serious or not in establishing the foundations [of reform],” he said.
“There is plenty space for reform, but for the people to believe it, the government needs to take practical steps.”
Previous government have delivered plenty of reform, Ala’Aldeen said, but they have done little publicized it.
“The next government might not be able to get to everything, but it has to be clear about what it needs to give priority to.”
The events of October 2017, when Iraqi forces seized the disputed territories from the Peshmerga, provide a “big lesson that control and command of Peshmerga forces and other armed forces has to be settled”.
“This has to be a priority,” Ala’Aldeen said.
Nevertheless, people also need services like health, education, and municipalities, he added.
Updated at 6:54 pm
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