Supporters of Massoud Barzani (portrait), the leader of the KDP listen as he delivers a speech in Erbil on May 26, 2013. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The KDP will hold its 14th congress after Iraqi and Kurdistan elections are held if situations remain “calm and stable,” a party leader said after a two-year delay that has been blamed on the ISIS conflict and Kirkuk fallout.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has always argued that it doesn’t resemble other parties in that it doesn’t have internal problems. So then why couldn’t the KDP hold its 14th congress on time?
“Most of our leadership, including President Barzani, was on the fighting fronts when the war on ISIS started. How could we hold the congress?” Ali Awni, a KDP leadership member, said.
Drawing on the powers of the KDP by-laws, the party “extended its term for one year,” Awni said. But the KDP didn’t hold its congress after the extension’s expiration.
“The war with Hashd al-Shaabi then happened to us after the war on ISIS had ended. The chaos created by the Hashd al-Shaabi and the October 16 events were the reasons we couldn’t do anything,” Awni added.
The KDP will celebrate its 72nd anniversary on August 16, 2018. The party held its 13th congress in Erbil on December 11, 2010, in which 1,500 members attended. In the congress, Masoud Barzani was reelected leader and Nechirvan Barzani as his deputy.
“There is certainly no rivalry within the KDP leadership. However, it is normal for congress members to vie for leadership positions. They could also be upset by the support given to certain candidates in order to reach leadership positions,” a KDP official said on condition of anonymity.
He claimed that “all KDP members starting from Khanaqin to Zakho agree that Masoud Barzani should be the party’s leader. There is no disagreement on this subject.”
The struggle for independence is expected to be discussed whenever the conference is held.
“In the congress, questions of nationality, homeland, and a state for Kurdistan are expected to be given much attention,” said Atta Sheikh Hasan, spokesperson for KDP leadership council in Sulaimani.
In its 13th congress, the KDP decided to form leadership councils for provinces. This, however, drew criticism from party members arguing that that the formation of these councils would complicate their work; however one was not formed for Duhok.
Some KDP officials and members told Rudaw that the party should work on reducing its expenses and reduce the number of headquarter offices in the 14th congress.
But Hasan hopes that the KDP avoids such decisions “because each area has its own characteristics, and that the success of national strategy differs from place to place. The Sulaimani leadership directs the KDP policy in this area. It is clear that the nature of a place differs from that of others.”
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on May 12. A date for Kurdistan’s elections has not been set.
“The KDP will surely hold its congress after Iraqi and Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections are held, providing that situations remain calm and stable,” Awni opined. “KDP leadership and members want President Barzani to remain KDP leader.”
Others are calling for some kinds of internal reform for the good of Kurdistan’s largest party.
“The KDP should change the way it conducts party affairs, and there should be a leadership revival. The KDP should also make executive changes otherwise we will fall behind,” said Farsat Sofi, a Kurdistan Region MP and KDP member.
He expressed that the KDP should exercise the “reward and punishment” system in its next congress, adding that “the KDP has held most government positions, and it should tell those who became rich in the government that this is now over.”