SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Change Movement (Gorran), which holds the position of the speaker of parliament, has refused a joint offer to reactivate the parliament, insisting that it does not accept "conditional" terms attached to the initiative, Gorran spokesperson Shorish Haji has said in a televised statement on Wednesday.
He said any attempt to reopen the parliament should be unconditional.
The Islamic League (Komal), who holds the position of the parliament secretary has also refused the offer to rejoin the parliament.
The two main Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), announced on Tuesday a new mechanism to reactivate the Kurdistan parliament with its Gorran Speaker Yousif Mohammed to lead the first session to be followed by his resignation and that of the entire team of the president of parliament and his deputy in the second session.
The decision came as the Kurdistan Region announced last week it will hold a referendum on independence in September with many parties believing that the Kurdish legislature should reopen and support the vote.
“The Gorran Movement declare that since 12 October 2015 we have emphasized that... the parliament with its current elected team of presidency should return to its work,” the statement said, adding that a functioning legislature would solve the legal and political crisis and the ongoing financial crisis that has plagued the Kurdish Region since early 2014.
“Any other mechanism to normalize the situation through the conditional reactivation of parliament is not acceptable to us, because the reason behind paralyzing the Kurdistan parliament is not its presidency, but the expiring of the Kurdistan Region Presidency’s term in office and the parliament’s attempt to amend the law of the [Kurdistan] Region’s presidency,” the statement continued.
President Masoud Barzani's term in office ended in 2013 after serving two four-year terms and was then extended for two years by an act from the then KDP-PUK dominated parliament. It was further extended by a Kurdish court when the political parties failed to reach a negotiated solution.
One other issue between the KDP and Gorran is the system of governance, with the KDP calling for a presidential system, while Gorran calls for a parliamentary one.
“Any step taken without changing the system of governance and radical reforms… not only offer no solution, but they also take the political process to further deadlock, make our nation further disappointed, and put our experience in front of bigger probabilities and risks,” the Gorran statement read.
The parliamentary presidency includes speaker Yousif Mohammed, his deputy Jaafar Imniki from the KDP, and the parliament secretary Fakhradin Qadir from the Islamic League (Komal).
Komal took a similar line to Gorran's.
"We deem it a legitimate question to ask why change the team of parliament presidency?" Rebwar Hama, Komal spokesperson said as he read a written statement on Wednesday.
The decision to reactivate the parliament that has not convened since October 2015 was made in a high-level meeting between the two main ruling parties, the KDP and the PUK.
Saadi Ahmad Pira, a senior PUK official, said in a press conference before the Gorran announcement on Wednesday that the KDP has made some compromises on its part, and now is the time for Gorran to make its own compromises. He said one party cannot set an objective to win all of its demands in the negotiations.
Relations between the KDP and Gorran deteriorated in October 2015 when the KDP sacked Gorran ministers and its speaker of parliament who took office after a deal with the KDP following the 2013 elections.
The KDP accused Gorran of orchestrating riots against its offices in several cities. Gorran denied the accusations.
The tensions between the two parties have also remained strained when the speaker refused to cancel a parliamentary session in 2015 planned to discuss President Masoud Barzani's second-term in office which was due to expire on August 19 that year.
Speaker Mohammed is not allowed to run for the speaker of the parliament when a new one is elected, Rudaw has learned from its sources, a condition set by the KDP.
“The parliament speaker will again come from the Gorran Movement,” Pira said as he insisted that Gorran will retain the post.
Pira said the move came after the Wednesday meeting in which the Kurdish government and the majority of political parties except for Gorran and Komal decided to set a date for the referendum this fall and reactivate the parliament so that it helps to “successfully conduct the referendum.”
“Gorran ministers will all return to their work,” Pira said as he explained the details about their project agreed between the two parties after hours-long meeting.
Gorran has a number of ministries in the Kurdish government, including that of the Peshmerga and Finances, all suspended since October 2015.
An official from Gorran told Rudaw on Tuesday that the three presidencies of the Kurdistan Region have to be changed at the same time, making reference to the positions of the presidency of the Kurdistan Region, the prime minister and the presidency of the parliament.
“Yousif Mohammed does not have any legal issues,” Abdulrazaq Sharif, the head of the Gorran media office said. “If the message from the Kurdistan Region president is to be fully implemented as it is, and the three presidencies all together [are] to be changed by the parliament, in that case we do not have any issue with it,” he continued as he talked about an earlier call by Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in November 2016 aimed at ending the political deadlock.
Then, Barzani in an official statement said: “The solution to the political crisis of the region is that the [political] parties begin discussions and elect a new speaker for the parliament. The parties should also reach agreement on establishing a new government and appoint somebody for the region’s presidency until elections take place."
Gorran has set a precondition of a functioning parliament before it gives its blessing for the referendum.