Tuesday, April 12, 2011
By Shwan Zulal
The protests are continuing while the government keeps ignoring them and their demands. The protesters are asking for radical changes in the system but the government only willing to make minor charges. Due to the brittle nature of the militia its refusal to listen to peoples demands, it appears that some loyal members of the incumbent political parties are about to jump ship.
Today the opposition once again have boycotted parliamentary session and said that they would only take part in parliamentary discussions if the protesters demands are listened to. Dana Sai'd Sofi, a PUK (patriotic Union of Kurdistan) MP and part of the ruling Kurditani List, has walked out of the session today and said: "The legislation which would be discussed today in parliament needs an agreement from all sides including the opposition". Parliament was supposed to discuss and approve legislation about political party funding, anti corruption measures and banning political interference in the security forces. Earlier another MP from PUK too, has raised the issues and threatened to walk out of parliament if opposition boycotted the session.
This is the first time an incumbent MP have shown his own initiative and decided to walk out of parliament and possibly disobeying his party. If this rebellion is genuine and followed by few more lawmakers, it could be a sign of a seismic shift in the political scene in Kurdistan. The main two parties of PUK and KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) control Kurdish parliament and their MPs have taken a very partisan approach to parliamentary voting. So far there has been no dissenting voices coming for either parties' MPs. Nevertheless, one MP threatening to walk out and another actually doing so can only mean that the party whips are about to lose authority and many more dissenting voices can appear.
While this parliamentary saga is ongoing, other senior officials and party loyalist are jumping ship too. Two senior editors from Hawler(Erbil) newspaper belonging to KDP have resigned along with the director of Dangi Gal owned by PUK. Shadman Gardali, editorial director for Hawler newspaper told Awana:"I do not agree with KDP media strategy... I lost faith in KDP and do not believe they can change...". Bakir Ahamed, editorial secretary, Hawler newspaper told Awana:" Our biggest problem is that KDP does not listen to us... the problem we have cannot be resolved by increasing our budgets... there has been many time when my writing has been censored and I have been reprimanded..."
The above example is a good account of the way political party media operate in Kurdistan and it is becoming clear that journalists who have integrity are leavening the militia controlled media organisations. In recent years, political party media has been expanding very rapidly in Kurdistan and the independent and privately owned organizations are not able to compete with them. This has created a choreographed media contented. The public are disillusioned with the whole media system and are growing more sceptical by the day.
It is hard to tell whether Sofi's action boycotting today's session is an isolated case and he will soon fall back inline or it is a beginning of the end for the current regime. Looking at the general picture, the government are making more concessions while the protesters and opposition are becoming more demanding. The opposition are adamant that parliament must address the protesters demands and make headways to try to deal with the current situation. Furthermore, they welcomed president Barzani's call on all the parties to enter into dialogue. There seems to be consensus among the opposition parties that they are willing to talk but cannot compromise on their 22-point reform proposals made last month. In another development today, PUK and KDP have issued a statement saying they would accept talking to opposition without any condition. This could be another sign of weakness or maybe the moderate voices within the parties are prevailing.
Meanwhile yesterday, president Barzani's envoy to speak to the protesters were snubbed by Maidani Azadi committee, saying that representatives was from a political party and did not have an official capacity from presidents office. Both militias are not yet getting the massage as they are trying to reach a settlement traditionally through the political parties. The protesters are in Maidani Azadi (Sera Square) for 53days now asking to get rid of the old system of militia dominated politics, yet the president sends his party representatives to negotiate with them.