Protesters in Sulaimani gather outside meeting of political parties . Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across the Kurdistan region to protest delayed salaries and the stalemate between Kurdish political parties that has left the regional government without an official president for since July.
At the biggest protest site in Suliamani, Rudaw's Saman Basharty witnessed clashes between the police and protesters who had gathered in front of of the Shary Juan Hotel where the five major Kurdish political parties were holding a meeting.
The meeting, held between representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Change Movement, Kurdistan Islamic Union and the Kurdistan Islamic League, was the latest in a series of unsuccessful attempts to find agreement over the presidency of Masoud Barzani.
Dozens of protesters held demonstrations in Erbil and Halabja. In Erbil, a medical official for Rizgari hospital said doctors who have not been paid would continue to help patients, but stressed that the government needs to know the doctors and other workers need their salaries.
On Tuesday, hundreds of teachers took to the streets in Sulaimani and Erbil after declaring a week-long strike earlier this month over delayed salaries. Representatives of the protesting teachers told Rudaw they refused to go back to work before receiving their full salaries, which have been withheld since July.
In response, the Kurdistan Regional Government's finance minister said the teachers would be paid on Monday.
The KRG says the ongoing war with ISIS militants, the influx of over 1.3 million refugees and Baghdad’s freezing of the KRG budget since February last year have coupled with falling oil prices to contribute to the unprecedented crisis.
Barzani’s KDP has asked for an extension to his presidency, citing the war with ISIS and the grinding economic crisis. The iconic Kurdish leader has been president since 2005, an extension would be his second since 2013.
The issue has polarized political parties in the region's already factional parliament.