Masoud Barzani chairs the monthly leadership council meeting on July 11. Photo: KDP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The legitimacy of the Kurdistan referendum to be held in September is “more valid” if the Kurdistan parliament is to be active and functioning, a senior official from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has told Rudaw TV on Sunday following a high-level meeting today.
Hoshyar Zebari, who is a KDP member of its Leadership Council, however maintained that the referendum does not need an act from the parliament.
“Holding referendum does not need any law,” Hoshyar Zebari said, adding that they have asked “many legal and international law experts” and that they all have come to the conclusion that “this is an executive and administrative decision and therefore does not need a law on this matter.
“But despite that, according to the views of many of the experts, and ourselves, too, it will be better, and stronger for the issue of the referendum and its results if our institutions are to be active and functioning, that the legitimacy [of the referendum] will probably be more valid before the eyes of the world, though we turn to the will of the people that is above it.”
On Sunday, the KDP has again called for the reactivation of the Kurdistan parliament in light of the scheduled Kurdistan referendum on September 25.
The Kurdish legislature, which was virtually shut down since October 2015 by the KDP-led Kurdish government, has been a major contributing factor to the political deadlock between the five major political parties, particularly between the KDP and the Change Movement (Gorran), the second-largest party with 24 seats.
The issue has reemerged since the Kurdish government revealed plans to hold the referendum earlier this year, with almost all major parties except the KDP calling for a mandate from the parliament to approve the referendum.
With 38-seats, the KDP has insisted that the referendum does not need a mandate from the parliament, while Gorran has called it “illegal” in the absence of a functioning parliament.
The KDP Leadership Council released a statement, following a high-level meeting attended by the party’s leader Masoud Barzani and his deputy Nechirvan Barzan who are also the President and Prime Minister of the Kurdish government, respectively.
“The issue of reactivating the parliament: The issue was discussed and it was emphasized that it should be in a way that helps [in] resolving the problems and further bringing together [all sides] and to create unity of the Kurdistani home. Also to help the process of referendum as a significant and national and patriotic issue,” it reads.
It states the KDP is supportive of having presidential and parliamentary elections on time, expected to be November 6, following the referendum.
“We from the Kurdistan Democratic Party are with holding the elections in Kurdistan on time and we intensify all of our efforts to pave the way and [to provide] necessary preparations on this issue.”
The Kurdish parliamentary elections were last held in 2013, and the presidential election was last held in 2009. President Barzani’s term in office ended in August 2013. It was extended by an act of parliament dominated then by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) for another two years until August 2015.
Due to major differences over the issue of President Barzani’s term in office and strained tensions mainly between the KDP and Gorran, the Kurdish legislature was closed in October 2015, when security forces in Erbil, largely under the control of the KDP, blocked Parliament Speaker Yousif Mohammed, a Gorran member, from returning to the capital where the parliament is located.
Gorran has set a precondition of a functioning parliament before it gives its blessing for the referendum.
Deputy Speaker Jaafar Imniki, from the KDP, earlier has said that he hoped the parliament will reconvene in June, but he then came out saying that the differences remained too big to be resolved.
On the issue of the referendum, the KDP statement said that despite the fact that the people of Kurdistan worked so hard to help build the state of Iraq, where different ethnic and religious groups would enjoy their rights and freedoms, the logic of one party rule prevented this from happening.
“These [factors] and from the perspective of preventing the repetition of disasters and further tensions, we consider this step being in the interest of all the population of the region,” the statement added, referring to the people of Kurdistan and Iraq.
The PUK and KDP earlier in April released a joint statement in which they said they wanted to reactivate the parliament “in a way that serves the process of a referendum and independence, as well as national unity.”
Gorran along with the Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group (Komal) — all members of the Kurdish coalition government — say they are in favor of the referendum, but it must have a mandate from the parliament.