Zana Aziz Karim (second-left) is shown with his two brothers, a sister, and sister-in-law in Erbil. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Zana Aziz Karim, a Kurdish man who refers to himself as “President Zana,” has thrown his hat into the ring in Iraq’s parliamentary elections.
President Zana and four other family members are running on an Arab list in Erbil named the Iraqi National Popular Movement. He has previously failed to secure a seat in the current Kurdistan Region parliament
Known for his bravado, Zana told Rudaw, “I will alone win three seats.”
Zana said Baghdad is a good place for someone like him. He also has said if his mother had held a degree, he would nominate her as the head of the list in Erbil.
“Baghdad is good for an agitator like me. Not a single Kurd has done a sacred thing in Baghdad to shake the city up!” he exclaimed.
Zana criticized some unnamed figures in Erbil for “not daring” to run on his list.
“That is why I nominated my close associates,” he revealed.
Asked how he was nominated by the party to run, Zana responded: “When the president of the [Arab] party knew I was famous, he asked me to become the future leader of all of Iraq.”
He added the family would sell some of their properties to finance the campaign.
“We possess nothing now for campaigning. But, we will sell our houses in order to afford campaigning,” he said.
He claimed that unlike other parties, he would have new ideas and plans, but didn’t reveal them.
He said if he becomes an MP in Baghdad, he would tell Haider al-Abadi that he was the one who invaded Kirkuk.
“He invaded Kirkuk in order to steal its oil. There are other things, but I am not talking about them,” he said.
Baghdad took control of Kirkuk on October 16 last year after Peshmerga forces pulled out.
Asked how he could fight for the right of Kurds in Baghdad while running on an Arab list, he answered: “It is true that I run on a tribal list, but I am independent.”
He said one of his works would be to help men and women get married.
“I will continue to encourage young men and spinsters to get married. This encouragement includes Arabs also,” he said.
Several Shiite Arab lists including The Nasr or Victory Coalition led by Abadi, the al-Hikma Movement led by Ammar al-Hakim and Al-Wataniya Coalition led by Ayad al-Allawi are fielding candidates in the Kurdistan Region, competing for more than three million Kurdish votes. Some think they’ll have no influence, but others believe dissatisfaction with the KRG may push some Kurds towards to the Arab parties.
Iraqi parliamentary elections will be held on May 12 and officials campaigning will stop 24 hours before.
There are 3,144,730 eligible voters in the Kurdistan Region. Political parties will compete for 46 seats in the Region (16 in Erbil, 18 in Sulaimani, 12 for Duhok). Erbil and Duhok each also have one minority quota system seat, which the Christian parties typically compete for.