President Masoud Barzani. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has announced he is stepping down as president but will remain serving his nation as a Peshmerga.
He said in a letter to parliament that he rejects an extension of his term as presidency, but will remain a Peshmerga, dedicated to protecting and strengthening Kurdistan.
“I refuse to continue the position of president of the Region after November 1, 2017,” he stated, advising the parliament to resolve the matter of the duties and powers of the president to ensure there is no “legal vacuum.”
For himself, he said, “I, as Masoud Barzani the Peshmerga, will continue with our nation and beloved Peshmerga in endeavors to achieve the just rights of our nation and protect the achievements of our nation.”
Barzani’s senior assistant Hemin Hawrami told The Associated Press that the president will “stay in Kurdish politics and lead the High Political Council.” He said Barzani’s letter to parliament today was not stepping down and he could remain in the post if he is mandated to do so until presidential elections are held.
The High Political Council
was formed to replace the High Referendum Council to take the lead in the post-referendum phase.
The full text of Barzani’s letter is below.
The KDP faction in the parliament said Barzani will dedicate his time “to serve on the fronts, serving the Peshmerga, their willpower, and morale.”
Barzani is head of the KDP. The faction released a statement saying Barzani “will be more determined and more dedicated in his opposition and fight against violence and terrorism until a peaceful country is established, far from terrorism and fundamentalist ideologies.”
He will also continue work to “develop and further strengthen democratic principles in Kurdistan, protect the achievements of our nation, and maintain and develop Kurdistan’s legitimate institutions.”
Barzani's letter was read out to parliament in a meeting on Sunday
The full text of Barzani’s letter to parliament:
Dear Presidency of Kurdistan Parliament,
In accordance with the Regional Decree 128, we called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held on November 1, 2017. But the High Independent Electoral and Referendum Commission suspended preparations for both elections due to political, security, and technical reasons as well as the lack of a candidate.
On October 24, 2017, the parliament of Kurdistan extended the term of the Regional government and its parliament for two terms.
I refuse to continue the position of president of the Region after November 1, 2017, and the presidential law of the Region should not be amended, nor should the term of the Regional Presidency be extended. You should therefore meet at your earliest convenience to ensure there is no legal vacuum in the execution of the duties and powers of the president of the Region and resolve this subject.
Moreover, I, as Masoud Barzani the Peshmerga, will continue with our nation and beloved Peshmerga in endeavors to achieve the just rights of our nation and protect the achievements of our nation.
October 28, 2017
Updated at 5:54 pm