Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabani and Bafel Talabani elected co-leaders of PUK, Iraqi Kurdistan: Rudaw


Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabani (L) with Bafel Talabani, Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, 2020. Photo: Lahur’s FB

SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabani and Bafel Talabani were elected co-leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on Tuesday in a vote by the party’s General Leadership Council. The result follows years of wrangling over who would succeed party founder Jalal Talabani.

The young Talabanis, who are cousins, were elected in a majority vote, according to pro-KDP Rudaw TV in the PUK stronghold of Sulaimani.

On December 21, 2019 following years of delay, the PUK held a contentious party congress, the first since the death of beloved party founder Mam Jalal in 2017.

Lahur and Bafel received the two highest vote totals during the recent PUK party congress in December 2019.

Party rivalries and a host of other issues had prevented the congress from taking place.

The PUK congress also voted to form the Supreme Political Council, which is headed by Kosrat Rasul Ali, the party’s former acting leader.

The Supreme Political Council performs a mostly advisory role, but has veto power over certain decisions and acts as the PUK’s official representation.

Lahur is the incumbent head of the PUK’s counterterrorism forces and is the nephew of Jalal Talabani, who served as Iraq’s president from 2005 to 2014. Bafel is the late president’s son.

Some factions had hoped to prevent the party becoming a family dynasty.

The PUK was founded in 1975 after breaking away from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The two parties fought a long civil war in the 1990s before agreeing to share power in a united administration. They however both retain their own Peshmerga units and geographical areas of influence.

Iraqi Kurdistan is not unified region, it is divided politically and geographically between the KDP led by Massoud Barzani and his family and PUK led by the Talabani’s clan.