Watch part two 

On July 25, Iraq's Autonomous Kurdistan region is scheduled to hold its first major legislative and presidential elections since 2005.

Former rebel leaders are expected to sweep the elections, but there are several key issues at stake.

The Kurds have their own parliament and executive government, an army - called the Peshmerga militia, and control over their borders, which Baghdad-controlled security forces are not allowed to enter.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the central government should hold a referendum in the Kurdish-populated areas of three provinces in northern Iraq - Irbil, Sulaimaniya, and Dohuk - to determine whether they should remain under Baghdad's control or become part of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The referendum has been postponed several times.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the elections, tensions between Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, and the central Baghdad government have heightened over Kurdish claims to Kirkuk province and parts of three other ethnically-mixed provinces with Kurdish populations - Diyala, Nineveh and Salaheddin.

On the next Riz Khan show we look at democracy in the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq and the issue of simmering Arab-Kurd tensions.

Joining the programme is Jerry Weinberger, a professor of political science at Michigan State University and an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. He just returned from four months of consulting for the American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniya.

Also joining in is Peshwaz Faizulla, a former managing editor for Hawlati newspaper and currently with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) in Washington DC.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Thursday, July 23, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera