Kurdistan parliament has not convened since October 2015 because of political disagreements between the KDP and Gorran, the first two largest parties in the Kurdistan Region. File photo: Rudaw/Farzin Hassan.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdish parliament is scheduled to meet Thursday morning after it was closed because of tensions between the two largest Kurdish parties two years ago, a statement from the parliament and a senior Kurdish official said.
The media office of the Kurdish parliament issued a brief statement on Wednesday saying that they have secured enough signatures to call for the meeting.
Hemin Hawrami, a senior assistant to the Kurdish president, tweeted that the meeting will take place on Thursday morning, and that the Kurdish independence referendum will take place on its scheduled time, September 25.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) earlier agreed to reactivate the parliament on that date, but they are also in talks with Gorran, to encourage Kurdistan’s second-biggest party to also come on board.
The tensions between the KDP and Gorran in 2015 resulted in closing the parliament by the KDP who have the most seats at 38.
The deputy parliament speaker, Jaafar Imniki, a KDP member, earlier told Rudaw that the meeting will either take place on Thursday or Sunday.
Gorran is yet to respond to a joint proposal by the KDP-PUK after their trilateral meeting Tuesday. Mala Bakhtiyar, speaking on behalf of the three Tuesday, said that the three parties have agreed in principle on the reactivation of the parliament. A second such meeting is expected today or tomorrow at the latest, he explained.
The first task for the parliament is to pass a law to call for the referendum to leave Iraq. Almost all Kurdish parties are of the view that the legislative body is the right institution to make such a decision.
Gorran, and the Islamic Group (Komal), the only two parties which have not yet approved the independence vote, have earlier called for the vote to be delayed until the right time and conditions.
The five major parties which together form the Kurdistan Region’s coalition government are expected to respect a majority vote from the parliament on the timing and mechanism of the vote.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday that the vote will take place on time.
The US Presidential Envoy to the fight against ISIS is currently in Sulaimani, where the PUK and Gorran have their main headquarters.
Brett McGurk have so far met with Hero Ibrahim, a PUK politburo member and also the wife of the party’s Secretary-General Jalal Talabani. The details of the meeting are not yet clear, but the issue of the parliament reactivation and the Kurdish referendum were expected to be discussed.
The US has called on different occasions to postpone the vote.
McGurk then visited Gorran’s leader Omar Ali in Sulaimani, also accompanied by the US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and the US Consulate General in Erbil Ken Gross.
Gorran leadership held a meeting on Wednesday morning, and then another with Komal before they were visited by McGurk.
Hadi Ali, from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), said at a press conference after the party's meeting with both the KDP and PUK, that parliament will hold its first session in two years on Thursday in order to support the referendum.
The statement from the parliament does not say whether the parliament speaker Yousif Mohammed, a Gorran member, authorized the content of the statement.
Omed Khoshnaw, the head of the KDP faction in the parliament, told Rudaw Wednesday that he is sure “100 percent” that the session will take place Thursday.
Hiwa Haji, also a KDP MP, told Rudaw that the referendum will be top of the agenda.
If the parliament speaker refuses to attend the meeting, the KDP has said that it will hand over the signatures collected from the MPs to the eldest member of parliament to oversee the first session. The eldest MP is now a KDP member.
Muna Qehweci, a Turkmen MP, said that all Turkmen MPs will attend the meeting tomorrow. The Turkmen and the Christians together have 11 quote seats in the Kurdish parliament.
KDP has 38 seats, Gorran 24, PUK 18, KIU 10, and Komal 6.