Former KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih [R] takes part in the Kurdish general elections in 2013 in Sulaimani, stronghold of his parent party PUK. File photo: Rudaw/Sartip Othman
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The newly-founded Coalition for Democracy and Justice of former KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih is scheduled to hold its first congress in Sulaimani on Wednesday.
Five hundred members from all parts of the Kurdistan Region will attend the foundation congress on Wednesday afternoon, Rebwar Karim, the spokesperson of the party, told Rudaw.
He said that a "good percentage of women and youth" will take part in the congress.
CDJ, which includes former members of the main Kurdish parties, has already entered into a de facto alliance with Kurdistan's largest opposition party, the Change Movement (Gorran), and the smaller Islamic Group (Komal).
They formed a joint coalition that visited Baghdad where they met with various Iraqi officials including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki. It was the first political delegation to visit Baghdad since the Kurdish referendum.
The three parties unsuccessfully campaigned for the establishment of an interim government and dissolving the current one dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The party's congress will vote for a general council that will have at least 40 members. This council will then elect an executive council of 15 members to run the party.
The party had previously registered with Iraq’s and the Kurdistan Region’s elections bodies in 2017.
Salih, the PUK's second deputy head, presented his resignation letter late last year, but it is not clear yet whether his parent party has accepted it.
Mala Bakhtiyar, from the PUK, told Rudaw last week that their leadership was split over the resignation with some trying to bring him back into the party.
According to the PUK bylaws, one cannot be a member of two parties at the same time.
Salih, also a former Iraqi deputy prime minister, wrote in an opinion piece last week that both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq have to turn their strained relations into an opportunity to build a working relationship based on economic development that could help to reunite the country.
Recent anti-government demonstrations hit several Kurdish cities in PUK strongholds with protestors demanding better basic services, a fight against corruption and full payment of state salaries on time, with some calling on the Iraqi government to help deliver some of these services.
Salih said that the Iraqi authorities should take note of the fact that the Kurds, perhaps for the first time in their history, are prioritizing economic demands before their nationalist demands — such as a call for an independent state.