The Change Movement (Gorran) elected Omar Sayid Ali as the party's new leader. Photo: KNN
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Gorran’s new leader has vowed to stand firm on the party’s commitment to the parliamentary system. In his first address after the vote, Omar Sayid Ali noted that the party has great responsibilities on their shoulders amid developments in the Kurdistan Region and that Gorran’s objectives can be achieved through “dialogue” with other parties.
Ali was elected leader of the Kurdistan Region’s second largest party on Tuesday in Sulaimani, two months after the death of his predecessor.
Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, who is also the head of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), called Ali to congratulate him on his victory.
Barzani expressed his hope that Ali’s election would be a factor towards achieving unity in the Kurdistan Region, paving the way to resolving problems.
The first task of the party’s new leader will be to negotiate the reactivation of the suspended parliament with the KDP and announce the party’s final verdict on the independence referendum set for September 25.
Gorran is yet to respond to an “unconditional” offer from the KDP to reactivate the parliament.
Ali, 72, said that he remains committed to the policies set by the late Nawshirwan Mustafa, the party’s charismatic founder who died in May after a long battle with cancer.
He said that they will remain committed “with no concessions” to the party’s program, including a call to a parliamentary system, a demand rejected by the KDP, which calls for an executive presidential system.
“The Region is going through deep political, economic, legal, and social crises,” Ali said in his victory speech. “It is clear that the region is up for big changes. Our responsibility to our nation as the Gorran Movement has grown.”
For the party to achieve its stated objectives, he said, it must do so through “dialogue, mutual understanding, and tolerating one another so that we all together bring about the pillars of state.”
He touched on drafting a “civic and modern constitution” for the Region that puts the rights of the citizens at its center.
The Kurdistan Region does not have a constitution. All attempts to introduce one have failed. The last try, after the 2013 parliamentary elections, failed mainly because of major differences over the powers of the Kurdish presidency.
Ali reiterated the call for “national unity” in Kurdistan, with a focus on improving the standard of living in the Region plagued by an ongoing financial crisis since early 2014.
Gorran believes that the Kurdistan Region still lacks the ingredients of an independent state, including an independent economy which is currently dependent on the export of oil, putting the Kurdish Region at the mercy of neighbouring countries.
The party also believes that the call for the referendum must come from the Kurdish parliament, which has not convened since 2015.
Ali, a native of Sulaimani who co-founded the Gorran Movement in 2009, is not a stranger to holding negotiations with the KDP.
He held a senior position within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) from the 1970s until he left to establish Gorran. In his capacity as a PUK member, he was involved in peace talks between the PUK and KDP that ended the bloody Kurdish civil war of the mid-1990s.
Commenting on the party’s Tuesday’s elections, he described the process that led to his victory as “democratic.”
“I thank those who voted for us and those who did not. It was a democratic process and I speak on behalf of the brothers and sisters,” said the new leader, who was the sole candidate for the position.
Earlier in the day, several young candidates who had become the face of the party after it won the 2009 parliamentary elections, including Abdullah Mala Nuri – then the youngest elected member of parliament – withdrew their candidacies. Some Gorran members accused the senior leaders of having agreed on a prior list of their favourite candidates.
The PUK also congratulated Ali on his victory, saying that they hope the two parties can better implement their alliance agreement signed last year.
Gorran is an offshoot of the PUK. Most of the senior leaders of Gorran are veteran PUK members.
Gorran elects Omar Sayid Ali as its new leader, selects executive body
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region - The Change Movement (Gorran) elected Omar Sayid Ali to head the party on Tuesday, two months after the death of Nawshirwan Mustafa, the party's former leader.
Qadir Haji Ali, one of the Gorran leaders who was expected to run for the party’s head decided to stay away from today's elections, paving the way for Omar Sayid Ali to replace the late Mustafa.
Simultaneously, seven members of Gorran's Executive Body to run the party's affairs were also elected.
The Gorran Executive Body consists of the following with each being in charge of a position within the party:
- Omar Ali, leader of Gorran
- Mohammed Tofiq Rahim, in charge of party's organs
- Jamal Haji Mohammed, National Assembly
- Rauf Osman, Public Assembly
- Jalal Jawhar, parliament and provincial factions
- Osman Haji Mahmood, party's offices
- Shorish Haji, people's affairs
Gorran elected its new National Assembly staff on Saturday.
Today's Gorran elections come on the anniversary of the party's first practical political participation in the Region's political arena. It ran for parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region on July 25, 2009, securing 25 seats.
It is the second-largest party in the Kurdistan Region with 24 seats in the parliament.