Gov’t formation in Iraq Kurdish region closer after KDP-PUK deal

New four-year political agreement to replace 2005’s ‘Strategic Agreement’, local reports say.

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani prepares to cast his vote at a polling station during parliamentary elections in the semi-autonomous region in Erbil
Nechirvan Barzani, of the KDP, voting in September's parliamentary election [File: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

The two main political parties in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region have struck a four-year deal paving the way for the formation of a new Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), according to local media.

The political agreement signed on Monday between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) comes months after September’s parliamentary elections.

“We both are winners. Our people are the winners,” Sadi Pira, a PUK member, was quoted as saying by Kurdish news outlet Rudaw.

“The security of our people is the priority … I hope everyone thinks of the people’s interests, not partisan interests,” Fazil Mirani, secretary of the KDP’s executive committee, said.

According to Rudaw, the new deal is expected to replace the KDP’s and PUK’s “redundant” so-called “Strategic Agreement”, which united the region under a KRG administration in 2005, and included measures to accelerate the formation of a new government.

At a joint press conference following the signing of the deal in Erbil, PUK spokesperson Latif Sheikh Omar said a commission would be established to follow up on the implementation of the agreement.

The deal would also result in the formation of parliamentary committees, local media outlet Kurdistan 24 reported. 

No other information was immediately available.

The two major parties, which have ruled the Kurdish region under a power-sharing agreement, have been at odds since the region’s failed bid for independence from Iraq in a controversial 2017 referendum.

The September 30 vote saw hundreds of candidates competing for the 111 seats in the regional parliament, including five allocated for Turkmen, five for Christians and one for Armenians.

According to the regional election commission, the KDP won 45 seats in September’s parliamentary election on September 30, while the PUK came second, securing 21 seats.

At the time, several opposition parties rejected the election results of the election, which came amid a political crisis brought about by the failed referendum – pushed for by the KRG at the time.

Kurdish political parties, as well as the central government in Baghdad, had opposed the referendum, which led to a military confrontation between Erbil and Baghdad in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Even though relations with Baghdad have since improved, the Kurdish region has lost territory and economic autonomy following the independence bid, and voter frustration is rising.

Years of stagnant politics, unpaid salaries and corruption have undermined faith in politics and shrunk the turnout in recent elections.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies