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 Barham Salih to serve as Kurdistan PM until 2013 

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Barham Salih to serve as Kurdistan PM until 2013  15.6.2011   




June 15, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The Kurdistan region’s embattled Prime Minister Barham Salih will remain in office for two more years and enjoys the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s support, a source has told Rudaw.

An official source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and three opposition parties agreed that Salih will continue to serve as prime minister until 2013.

While there are no official term limits in Iraqi Kurdistan, under a PUK-KDP agreement, Kurdistan’s the ruling parties should swap the prime minister and parliamentary speaker posts every two years.

However, the source said that because former Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the KDP served for four years, Salih, a PUK leader who has served as premier since September 2009, will remain in office for the same amount of time.                     

Dr Barham Salih, Kurdistan region premier.
While other top leaders denied the claim, the development would be a political triumph for Salih, who has faced a tough term marked by unprecedented protests in Sulaimani province, the emergence of the region’s first major opposition party and speculation that he did not enjoy the powerful KDP’s support.

“Whether or not the talks with the opposition will yield any change in the formation of the current government, the KDP supports Barham Salih to remain as the head of KRG,” the source said.

In an apparent attempt to quash speculation that the KDP might take over the premiership, Barzani told the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat last week, “We are confident that we have placed the KRG in good hands.”

The former prime minister said PUK and KDP “have a brotherly relationship with each other and I believe the issues that I could not settle during my term as the leader of the KRG will be solved by him [Salih].”

Last month, a member of KDP’s leadership council told Rudaw that some council members believed the KDP should lead the government when Salih’s term ends in September 2011, but that no decision had been made yet.

In his Asharq Alawsat interview, Barzani dismissed those claims as rumors.

“We have not officially discussed this matter,” he said. “But whenever it comes up, we will evaluate the performance of the current government and take the right decision in the interest of our nation and of Iraqi Kurdistan.”

However, senior PUK leader, Imad Ahmed, told Rudaw, “Until now we have not been informed about a term being extended for the head of the KRG for two years, and whether [the premiership] will be given to the PUK or not.”

Ahmed said the PUK had not even discussed the issue internally, but that “The PUK’s candidate for any future KRG premiership is Barham Salih.”

Jafar Ibrahim, member of KDP’s politburo, told Rudaw, “Until now changing, extending or forming a broad-based government has not been discussed between the PUK and KDP and what has been said in this regard is only speculation.”

Ibrahim, who participated in the five-party talks, added, “The common principle between all the five parties is that the opposition will take part in the new government,www.ekurd.netbut talks are still going on regarding the nature of this participation.”

Sadi Ahmed Pira, member of PUK politburo and PUK representative in the five-party talks, said in an interview with Zagros TV that the opposition tried to frame Salih’s government as a failed one.

“But the government is not a failure and it is carrying out its duties,” said Pira, who maintained that Salih enjoys wide public support.

Pira also told Rudaw that in the past two rounds of talks with the opposition, there has been no talk about the post of the prime minister.

“But we have talked about the formation of a broad-based government which we hope the opposition will participate in,” Pira said.

The opposition parties are demanding a transitional government be formed until controversial laws on elections and local governments are amended.

Latif Sheik Omer, representative of Iraqi Kurdistan’s presidency in Sulaimani said, “The PUK and KDP now are waiting for the results of the five-party talks, in order to have a clear picture of the roadmap. In the meantime the wheel of reform in the government has begun to turn.”
 

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