PUK and Gorran officials sign an historic agreement in Sulaimani, with PUK leader Jalal Talabani seated in between. Rudaw photo.
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its breakaway Change Movement (Gorran) signed an important agreement Tuesday, ending seven years of separation, political stalemate and rivalry.
The official signing in the city of Sulaimani came after both the PUK and Gorran leaderships separately approved the agreement Saturday to develop relations.
Although the details of the agreement have not been fully disclosed, the drafting of the deal was done by a high-level mutual committee from both parties.
The agreement was signed by the PUK’s Kosrat Rasul Ali and Gorran’s Nawshirwan Mustafa, with other senior leaders present. Jalal Talabani, the former Iraqi president who still officially leads the PUK but largely disappeared from the country's political scene since suffering a stroke in December 2012, sat between the two party leaders.
Gorran split from the PUK in 2009, becoming Kurdistan’s first strong opposition party. It later joined the broad-based Kurdish government.
Mending relations with PUK is an attempt by Gorran to improve its political position.
Political rivalries in Kurdistan intensified after angry protesters stormed and torched several offices of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) across Sulaimani province in early October, in a series of violent demonstrations that sent shockwaves through the region. Since then, no serious attempts were made at reconciliation.
Following the violence, the KDP announced it would no longer recognize Gorran member and Parliament Speaker Youssef Muhammad. The parliament has remained paralyzed since then.