ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Delegations from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) will meet on Monday to resume government formation talks after the arrest of party members raised tensions.
“We will discuss the formation of Kurdistan Regional Government’s new cabinet because it is time for it and it should no longer be postponed … in order to resolve pending issues with Baghdad,” Arif Rushie, advisor to the KDP, told his party’s KDP Info news agency.
According to PUK media, Monday’s meeting will focus on the formation of the KRG cabinet, the Kirkuk issue, and relations with the Iraqi government.
Kurdsat News also reported that a “well-informed” source has told them the KDP delegation will be headed by its leader Masoud Barzani and the PUK delegation will be headed by its acting leader Kosrat Rasul.
However, Rudaw correspondent in Erbil Sangar Abdulrahman has learned that the KDP delegation will be headed by its deputy leader and incumbent KRG premiere Nechirvan Barzani, who was nominated by his party for the position of Kurdistan Region’s president.
Abdulrahman also said Masrour Barzani, who was nominated by the KDP to form the new KRG cabinet, will also attend the meeting.
Relations between the two parties soured in recent weeks after the PUK arrested a KDP member in Sulaimani. The KDP responded by arresting a PUK member in Erbil. Both were released a few days later after PM Barzani condemned the retaliatory act.
The PUK is expected to call for the formation of a court with the authority to rule on disputes, similar to the Iraqi Federal Court. The idea is not popular with the KDP, however, which believes the Region’s existing courts already serve this function.
Also expected on the agenda is a call to create a transparent central institution to collect KRG revenues, calls to reshape foreign affairs to give the PUK more of a say, and normalization of the Kirkuk situation.
Government formation talks have moved at a snail’s pace since the September 30, 2018 election. The KDP emerged as the biggest party with 45 seats in the KRG parliament – short of an outright majority.
The PUK came second with 21 seats and the Change Movement (Gorran) third with 12. Both parties are wrangling over senior cabinet posts and deputy positions in the new government.