Komal leader Ali Bapir speaking to his party's supporters at a rally to kick off their election campaigning in Erbil on Saturday. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Komal party leader Ali Bapir told supporters on Saturday that September 2017’s “failed referendum” on Kurdish independence was detrimental to the Kurdistan Region and that Erbil and Baghdad are inseparable.
Launching the party’s campaign for the Iraqi parliamentary election, Bapir blamed the Region’s problems on last year’s referendum, despite enthusiastically backing the vote at the time.
“Look how damaging the failed referendum that we held was,” Bapir said. “Look at its negative implications. Therefore here and Baghdad are two inseparable parts.”
Bapir believed Kurds can achieve their constitutional rights in Baghdad “when they are strong here [in the Kurdistan Region] first.”
Bapir had voted ‘Yes’ to an independent Kurdistan in the September 25 referendum, and rallied supporters to do the same.
“Today marks a historical day for the Kurdish nation to practice the God given and natural right,” Bapir said at the time. “Today everyone should enthusiastically go to vote at the ballot boxes.”
His comments follow those of Yousif Mohammed, a Change Movement (Gorran) leader and former speaker of the Kurdistan parliament, who on Thursday also slammed the independence vote, saying those who decided to hold referendum should be “tried” in court.
Mohammed’s speech drew condemnation from ‘Yes’ voters and praise from those who were against the move in the first place.
The Komal party currently holds three seats in Baghdad, and hopes to achieve four in the May 12 election.
The Komal party has fielded 24 candidates. Of this number, 20 are standing in the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and the Kurdistan Islamic Movement (KIM) had wanted to run jointly with Komal in the Iraqi parliamentary election, but Bapir’s party rejected the offer.
Abdulstar Majeed, a Komal leader and former KRG agriculture minister, refused to pin the blame on any side regarding the failure to form a joint Islamic list between the three parties.
“All the slogans the Komal has raised circulate within the context of the Iraqi constitution,” Salim Shushkai, a Komal MP in Baghdad, told Rudaw, insisting the party is campaigning on achieving Kurdish rights.
Komal together with the Change Movement and the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) have one joint list called ‘Homeland’ for the Iraqi parliamentary election in Kirkuk. The three parties kicked off their election campaign in the disputed city on April 14.
Speaking at the launch, Bapir said: “Komal works for unity, justice and prosperity for citizens. We are optimistic and hopeful about election results.”