Friday, June 10, 2011
Kurdish government in overdrive to ensure its survival
By: Shwan Zulal
"At Erbil Governor's office in Kurdistan; It's the weekend but the governor and his team are at work like any other working day", tweeted Bayan Rahman, KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) Representative to the UK. The penny appears to have finally dropped in Kurdistan Region. There are frantic activates in most governmental departments. Demotions and promotions are taking place. General Managers have been sacked and even a deputy minister being issued with arrest warrant to face corruption charges. Substandard hospitals has been closed down and there plans to withdraw licenses from unhygienic dental and health clinics.
PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) appears to be in a competition to be seen carrying out reforms and putting their houses in order. KDP has dismissed the deputy finance minister and PUK has started to return public property to the government. Companies in Slemani, which are all but free enterprises belonging to the ruling parties, announced that they are returning public property to the Government.
This is type of competition between politicians is what the Kurdish public has craved for years, while competition was more about the size of their swimming pools and country mansions.
One wonders what has happen to the Kurdish Government in a space of a month. The Kurdish authorities have been moving at a leisurely pace for a long time and government went into a spasm when the protest flared in Slemani area back in February this year. Nevertheless; in the last few weeks, many changes are taking place and this could be a start of a comprehensive reform program, which the incumbent parties have promised but never implemented for over a decade.
While pressure is mounting and public had enough of inept government, the current government has a golden opportunity to drive forward radical and bold plans for the much-needed reforms in the Region. Such is the public's anger at lack of services and accountability, the bolder the reforms the more support it will receive.
Meanwhile, hopes are high as talks continue among the largest five political parties in Kurdistan Region.
Protesters and opposition have managed to give the government a wakeup call and it appears that the languid machine of government is waking up. While the activities are promising and it could be a start of a new era in Kurdish politics. One cannot help but be cynical about the changes - doubting its motives and authenticity- mainly because of many broken promises in the past.
If the incumbents succeed and make systemic changes to the government and the political and military structure in Kurdistan, the public may give both parties the benefit of the doubt for one last time. Otherwise, failing to introduce the overdue reforms and building a just society as well bringing an end to corruption, would mean PUK and KDP can only stay in power by imposing themselves rather than being elected in the future.