MESOP BACKGROUND : A COUP IN HERO’S OWN PARTY (PUK) – Iraqi Kurdistan’s PUK divisions on display after new decision-making body

SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— 3 Sept 2016 – Divisions within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were on display Friday after one faction in the party responded to the announcement of a new decision-making body that would determine the legitimacy of party policies.Politburo head Mala Bakhtiyar, member Hero Ibrahim Ahmed and others released a statement following a meeting in Sulaimani that said anybody formed outside of the party’s established regulations would be deemed illegitimate. The statement was in response to an announcement the previous day by another faction in the party – that includes deputy Secretary-Generals Kosrat Rasul and Barham Salih – that a new decision-making center would be the only legitimate producer of PUK policy.

The group also called for a party congress to be established.

Bakhtiyar and Ibrahim said in their statement that the decision center was neither discussed in the politburo nor with the leadership council and had not been approved by the PUK’s central council. “Any announcement of any organs or centers that were not approved by internal regulations will be determined illegitimate by the majority of the PUK’s senior members,” read the statement released by eleven senior members, two of which were outside the Kurdistan Region. The PUK’s Central Council will hold an already scheduled meeting in the near future to announce the final policy and stance of the party, the statement added.

Deputy Secretary-Generals Kosrat Rasul and Barham Salih, along with six other senior members of the PUK’s politburo and leadership council, issued a statement on Thursday announcing a new party ‘decision center’, and calling for the formation of a legitimate party congress.“Until the PUK’s management issues are resolved through a legitimate congress, we are announcing a PUK decision center,” the statement read. “From now on, no decision will be considered a PUK decision if it isn’t accepted by the PUK decision center.” A number of PUK members expressed their disapproval of Thursday’s statement. PUK central council member Atta Sarawi called the announcement of a PUK decision center a “coup” against the party.