President Masoud Barzani's supporters fly high a flag of the Kurdistan Democratic Party with his portrait. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has said that he will not stand in the presidential elections to be held in November, following the planned referendum for independence that is going to take place in September.
The US-based Foreign Policy magazine asked Barzani about his position with regard to the general election that is expected to take place on November 6, more than a month after the referendum that is scheduled for September 25.
“I will not stand for election,” Barzani said in his response that was published on Thursday.
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.
His term in office and the debate about what system should Kurdistan have, presidential as promoted by Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), or parliamentarian as almost all other major parties demand, have been the main factors behind the political stalemate.
The Kurdistan presidency law as passed by the parliament stipulated for the president to be elected by direct popular vote, as was the case in 2009 when President Barzani won more than 70% of the votes.
Gorran (Change) Movement, the second-largest party in Kurdistan with 24 seats, has repeatedly called for a parliamentary system and the law for the Kurdish presidency to be amended. It wants to elect the president by the parliament, as used to be the case before the 2009 presidential elections, with fewer powers.
The KDP virtually shut down the Kurdistan parliament mainly because the Kurdish legislature whose Speaker Yousif Mohammed, a Gorran member, had insisted on amending the law in the parliament in 2015 before the end of Barzani’s extended term in August that year.
The parliament has not convened since, and all attempts, including a recent initiative by the KDP and its strategic ally, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have failed to reopen the parliament.
The KDP has 38 seats in the parliament and heads the coalition government comprised of the first five parties in terms of the number of seats.
Gorran ministers have been barred from performing their duties since October 2015.
President Barzani has asked the Kurdish electoral commission to prepare holding the parliamentary and presidential elections "on time,” which is expected to be on November 6.