Wednesday, May 11, 2011
By: Shwan Zulal
Aswat Al-Iraq has reported today that, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Barham Salih, could be replaced by another candidate from KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party). The website quotes a source from KDP saying, "according to the Strategic Agreement between the two parties, PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) prime minister's mandate will expire in October and it all depends on the circumstances as to what happens next".
Nechirvan Barzani, the nephew of Kurdish president, Mas'ud Barzani, led the last Kurdish Government. When his term according to the SA (Strategic Agreement) ended, PUK leader, Jalal Talabani, has wavered PUK's right to replace him. Nechirvan Barzani continued as the PM until fresh elections were held. PUK and KDP agreed in the SA that, Kurdistan Region PM could only serve two years of his term and the other party need to forward another candidate to replace him/her.
The motive behind Talabani's move is not yet known, but PUK said at the time that government continuation was in the national interest.
Since Barham Salih, took the reign of power, his premiership has faced challenges and many problems as he has been obstructed. KDP has been very uncooperative with the PM and made his life very difficult. Salih has had very little influence in the areas controlled by KDP. The PM's own party did not make thing for him easy too becuse he has been calling for reforms and tried to make changes to PUK.
This latest report by Aswat Al-Iraq, which could be denied by KDP, is a clear indication that they are testing the waters and gauging PUK's reaction. Salih and PUK formed the new government thinking the gentleman's understanding between the two parties would mean that he will serve his full term. However, it is only an understanding and on paper, the agreement stipulates that each party can put forward a candidate to serve as PM for only half of the full term within the coalition.
There are three obvious candidates, which could enter the race. The front-runner would be former Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, as he has not taken any other posts in the government since stepping down. The second choice, which would be a bold move by KDP, Erbil Governor, Nawzad Hadi. And, the outsider would be President's son, Masrur Barzani, which could prove to be a headache for KDP if chosen, due to family hierarchy among Barzani clan.
It remains to be seen if KDP is serious about replacing the PM and how PUK and Talabni React. It is needless to say that this story has just surfaces as the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, has taken medical leave and on his way to US for medical check-ups.
It is early days to predict what KDP would do. Pressure is mounting on PUK and KDP to carry out reforms and possible early elections. KDP may not go ahead and break the understanding with PUK which would leave them with no option but early elections.