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 Leading challenger emerges in Iraqi Kurdistan presidential vote

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Leading challenger emerges in Iraqi Kurdistan presidential vote  22.7.2009   







July 22, 2009

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Four candidates are challenging incumbent Massoud Barzani in the autonomous Kurdistan region's presidential election on July 25, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Though Barzani is favored to win reelection, Halo Ibrahim Ahmad is considered a leading candidate.

Ahmad told RFI that he is an underdog in the election but was driven to run because of a keen desire among Kurds "to see new faces and real change."

Ahmad, who is the brother of Iraqi First Lady Hero Talabani,
www.ekurd.net said he believes a large segment of the population sees Barzani as the head of the powerful Kurdistan Democratic Party first and president of the Kurdistan regional government second.
                        

Halo Ibrahim Ahmad is considered a leading candidate.

Massoud Barzani, the President of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq's north,
Ahmad, 57, has been criticized for not having experienced the suffering of the Kurdish people under Saddam Hussein because he lived much of his life in Britain and the United States.

But Ahmad notes that he has been in the Kurdish region since 2000 and is familiar with the problems Kurds face. He adds that in 1991, when a Kurdish uprising was brutally crushed by Saddam Hussein, he launched an organization called Shelter that helped with reconstruction.

Ahmad told RFI that if elected president, he will fight corruption and seek to establish a more effective government,
www.ekurd.net including a presidency that will report to the people each month on its progress in fulfilling campaign pledges.

Ahmad is a member of the Progress Party, which he founded last year.

The other three candidates in the election are agricultural worker Hussein Garmiyani, writer and scholar
Dr. Kamal Mirawdali, and businessman Safin Sheikh Muhammad.

Elections for the Kurdish regional parliament will also be held on July 25.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, rferl org    

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