MESOP : WILL MAM JELAL “ELECT” HIM ? – Kirkuk governor refuses to quit Iraq presidential race

22-7-2014 – Kurdpress – As the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) struggled to nominate a final candidate for Iraq’s presidential seat, a senior party member said he would not withdraw his bid despite internal objection.”I intend to stay in the race and won’t withdraw my bid,” said Najmaldin Karim, a top PUK official in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, where he won 150,000 votes in this year’s elections, securing a second term as governor, Rudaw said.

Karim’s remarks came shortly after the long-anticipated meeting of the PUK politburo, which was held in the hope of rallying the party behind a single candidate.

But even without Karim, the meeting was notably divided over two other top names: Barham Salih and Fouad Massoum. Both are former prime ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Mala Bakhtiar, a senior PUK official, stated after the meeting that Salih and Massoum are the only official PUK nominees, indirectly confirming the party divide over the two names.Recently, the powerful PUK politburo held a series of meetings to nominate its candidate for the presidency, but without much success.

The PUK dithering comes as Iraq reels in turmoil, with politicians in Baghdad trying to put a new government together.  A parliament speaker was chosen last week, and the Kurds must nominate a president. “The (PUK) meeting was not able to come together and agree on one candidate, and this is the only reason why they presented two names. This means that the bid is still wide open, and of course I am still a candidate,” Karim said. According to reports 10 PUK politburo members have submitted a letter to Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani in full support of Salih. “Some people, for their own personal gains, have led a smear campaign against me,” Karim alleged.  “But Barzani knows very well about my past and knows that wherever I have worked — in Kurdistan or abroad — I have served my people with dignity and success.”A source within the PUK leadership told Rudaw earlier that the reason for the opposition to Karim’s candidacy was “the fact that Najmaldin Karim announced his candidacy without prior consent of the PUK.”