Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani. Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Select representatives of the Christian community in the Kurdistan region have called on Kurdistan political parties to reach a consensus regarding the presidency, and to support current President Masoud Barzani in continuing in the role.
This came in a joint statement on Monday from the Archdioceses of Mosul, Kirkuk and Erbil and the Assyrian, Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic communities. In the absence of a regional constitution to regulate the term length, the question of whether Barzani should stay past his term or leave has polarized the parliament and Kurdish society. Earlier on Sunday, Barzani called on the Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil to convene and come to an agreement regarding his presidency before Thursday, August 20, when the leader’s term in office will officially end.
"We, as Christians, believe in the supremacy of the law and serve the community and the country. Through past experiences, it has become clear for us that President Barzani is a leading factor behind the Kurdistan region's peace and stability. Therefore, we as the representatives of Kurdistan’s Christians, including all elements, express our support for extending the Barzani presidency term. Because, at this time, the Kurdistan region is going through a stage of hardship and is in a fight against ISIS. In this observation, again we see the decisive role of Barzani in leading the Peshmerga against ISIS. With Barzani remaining in power, he will restore our lands and rights from ISIS," read the statement.
The statement also called for Christians and other religious minorities to be included in the constitutional drafting committee. The Kurdistan Parliament is currently reviewing a draft of a regional constitution that will be put to referendum after it is ratified.
Supporters of Barzani say given the current conditions in Iraq and the ongoing war with the Islamic State, the president should continue his term until the region and country are able to hold elections.
Critics have dismissed this argument however, claiming the parliament could elect a new president despite the war with ISIS along Kurdish borders.
Lawmakers of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is the largest faction in the parliament with 38 seats out of 111, walked out of a voting session last month in protest against parliament’s alleged resistance to extending Barzani’s presidency.