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‘Only congress can resolve PUK issues’: official

By Rudaw 13/3/2018
PUK’s main office in Sulaimani covered in the party’s green flag and posters of Talabani. Photo: Rudaw/File
PUK’s main office in Sulaimani covered in the party’s green flag and posters of Talabani. Photo: Rudaw/File
Rafaat Abdullah, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Organizations Office, hints at the party’s internal affairs and the tribulations it faces if it does not hold its hotly contested 4th party congress soon.

Rudaw: While the PUK was about to decide on the congress date, politburo member Hero Ibrahim Ahmed and acting leader Kosrat Rasul Ali engaged in a war of words. What happened to the congress date?

Rafaat Abdullah: I personally was not in favor of these letters being written because we are close to one another and in general we convene every now and then and understand each other very well. Then, what is the point of writing letters? So what was done was not good. They could have discussed this matter between themselves with a visit or a phone call. If Mrs. Hero wrote a letter, Mr. Kosrat should not have replied, as they ought to be above engaging in a war of words.

PUK politburo member Saadi Ahmed Pira said the letters were not written by either of them, but by those around them. One way or another they ended up signed the letters.

It does not matter who wrote the letters. What matters is their signatures appear on them, which means they agreed with the content of the messages. The PUK’s issues cannot be resolved by exchanging letters. On the contrary, it deepens the problems and, because of that, they came under criticism.

I think your bigger problem is that the PUK Leadership Council has not met yet. When will this meeting happen? Could you set the date of the congress in a meeting?

It appears it is very important for the Leadership Council to convene. Concerning this subject, I have spoken with Mr. Kosrat. He explained to me that in the coming days they would decide to meet. In the approaching meeting, a date for the congress will not necessarily be decided because we are nearing the Iraqi parliamentary election campaigns. Whenever the meeting of the leadership council is held, we will discuss the matter of the congress.

It is said that the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, Qubad Talabani, is trying to normalize relations between his mother, Mrs. Hero, and Kosrat Rasul. Are you aware of that?

Mr. Qubad is persistently visiting Mr. Kosrat, but I am not aware of the details of the attempt and thus I have no knowledge of the results.

Who is the decision maker within the PUK, currently? 

[Laughter] If there was a decision maker within the PUK, it would not be in the situation it finds itself in today. There are plenty of decision makers within the PUK, and at the same time there are none. It appears that a lot of decisions are being made, but they do not work, as they are not unanimously made, but individually. Therefore, implementing the decisions is hard.

How long has it been since a unanimous decision was made within the PUK?

Since the referendum.

What will solve the PUK’s internal stalemates?

Only the congress will resolve the PUK’s issues. It is true that if the congress is held the PUK will dwindle, but in the meantime it will form a bedrock for it to once again stand up. There might be some unpleasant events at the congress, but we are forced to hold it as it is the demand of the PUK’s supporters. Let us not forget that the PUK has very good cadres and a fan base. We dare say it is they who are leading the effort for the PUK to survive. In my opinion, if the congress is delayed until after the elections, it would be better.

The resignation of former KRG prime minister Barham Salih from the PUK has not yet been officially approved. Meanwhile he leads his own political entity, the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), and a list for the Iraqi parliamentary elections. How long will you wait until you approve it?

In the past, when the politburo existed and now that the Leadership [Council] exists, I never saw the resignation letter from him, even when we asked for it. No one knows why and when Dr. Barham resigned. And for your information, his resignation must be approved by the leadership of the PUK.

What is the situation of Dr. Najmaldin Karim, the former governor of Kirkuk Governorate? He says he is still a member of the PUK leadership. But some among your leaders do not recognize him as PUK?

After the October 16 events, Dr. Najmaldin went to Erbil when he should have come to Sulaimani. Thus, he decided who he belongs to and it is finished now that he is not a member of the PUK. Let him say for himself from a distance from the Leadership Council. He has no influence. We are saying he is no longer associated with the PUK. Whether or not he has left politics, this is his own business.

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