Dr Abdulbari Mullah Majeed, head of the CDJ list in Erbil, says the party has "full confidence" in its abilities to fight for Kurdish rights in Baghdad. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The newly established Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) says it is fighting to obtain Kurdish constitutional rights in the Iraqi parliament and promote the Kurdish position in Baghdad from subordination to superiority.
Taking part in Rudaw TV’s 10 Questions program, Dr Abdulbari Mullah Majeed, head of the CDJ list in Erbil, said: “The CDJ’s main focus is on the constitution and in particular the rights violated. Our aim is to once again give a boost to the position of Kurds in Baghdad. To that end, we do our utmost to advocate these rights.”
“Baghdad and Kurdistan need to enjoy close ties,” Majeed said. “We work with Iraq as per the constitution as we restore our rights according to that constitution.”
“We no longer want to be subordinates in Baghdad, but leaders,” he emphasized. “We have come to say enough is enough to the injustice being done.”
The CDJ hopes to send a strong Kurdish team to Baghdad to regain the power and influence enjoyed by Kurds after 2003.
“We have full confidence in our abilities,” he said.
The head of the CDJ is Barham Salih, a former KRG prime minister and deputy secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Majeed said the people of Kurdistan have already witnessed the “services and great works” Salih delivered during his two-year tenure in office. The party can expect to receive an unprecedented number of votes thanks to that legacy, Majeed insisted, describing Salih as a “strong charismatic leader.”
The party will offer stronger leadership compared to its rivals “thanks to past leadership roles Dr. Barham has played and strong plans the party has laid out,” he said.
Commenting on other parties contesting the election, Majeed said he expects the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK to secure fewer votes compared to previous years as “people are sick and tired of the ruling system they practiced in recent years.”
The KDP and PUK are traditionally the ruling parties of the Kurdistan Region. In the Iraqi parliament the KDP holds 25 seats and the PUK 21.
The CDJ does not merely aim to take votes away from these parties, but also to attract the votes of those “oppressed” in the Region.
“We have not come to receive the votes of the KDP or PUK – we have come to take the right votes as we are working on the basis of the rule of law and justice."
“We will describe ourselves as victorious no matter how many seats we receive ... Our courage to enter the political rivalries is itself a great victory for us.”
A member of the audience, which included a mixture of political affiliations, asked Majeed for his thoughts on recent comments made by Yousif Mohammed, a former Kurdistan parliament speaker and a Gorran leader, who said those who masterminded the September independence referendum should be “tried” in court.
“I do not comment on that,” Majeed replied. “But all Kurds wish for Kurdistan to become a state.”
A PUK supporter in the audience accused the CDJ of lacking a program, claiming the party “has just come to take the PUK votes and that is it.”
In a contribution from the floor, a CDJ supporter said the party would take as many votes as possible in order to fix the concept of “citizenhood.”
“The [CDJ] is a sociopolitical school whose focus is on people to be central,” said Sangar Farman, accusing other parties of seeing citizens as “subordinates.”
“The [CDJ] has come to fix the concept of citizenhood,” he said.
However, Omed Qadir, a PUK supporter, said the CDJ has emerged from the belly of the PUK and is merely working to undermine the position of his party.
“We do not have to forget one fact, the PUK has a river of blood, owns the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces... The CDJ works to tarnish the image of the PUK to reach power at the expense of the PUK.”
A number of Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) supporters and some officials have joined the CDJ.
However, a KIU supporter, Abu Bakir Sleman, said the CDJ will not be able to win the hearts and minds of his party’s grass roots “because the KIU has a long time ago asked for the concept of centralizing people to be fixed.”
“It is true that some [leaders] from the KIU have joined the CDJ, but it is only them going. The KIU fan base has not moved. It is still there,” he said.
The KIU is the largest Islamic party in the Kurdistan Region.
Editor’s note: 10 Questions is one of Rudaw TV’s election specials. It invites candidates to answer questions from a mixed audience on issues that matter to the party and voters. It is presented by Ranj Sangawi.