Opposition Front Weakened as Gorran Meets with Ruling Parties

07/10/2012 RUDAW – By NAWZAD MAHMOUD – SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region—Muhammad Hakim, a Kurdistan Islamic League (Komal) leader says that the opposition currently does not have a plan. “The opposition has not proposed any new plans since it laid out its reform package after the anti-government demonstrations in February 2011,” he says.

Hakim adds, “The joint committees created by the opposition groups before still exist. However, they are inactive and without a plan.”  Recently, the Change Movement (Gorran) — the largest opposition group in Kurdistan — met with Jalal Talabani, the secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). It also had a meeting with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leadership. Even though the two Islamic opposition groups said that Gorran informed them about its meetings with the ruling parties, some Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) supporters have criticized Gorran for holding these meetings unilaterally.

In the past, Gorran media criticized the KIU for meeting with the KDP.

Hakim admits that relations between the opposition groups have been weakened.

“The opposition groups must strengthen their relationships and find a new mechanism to work together,” he says, adding that the relationship between the opposition groups has not been strong since the anti-government demonstrations.

Hakim says that Komal and the KIU have no plan to work together to extend the opposition’s agenda in Kurdistan. During the anti-corruption demonstrations, Gorran, Komal and the KIU formed an opposition front and began negotiations with the ruling parties – the PUK and KDP. The opposition proposed a reform plan for the government to implement.

After four meetings between the opposition and ruling parties, the opposition suspended the negotiations.  Since that time, Gorran and the PUK have held several secret and open meetings to normalize their relations. The latest meeting was held between the leaders of both parties two weeks ago.

Hakim believes that it is time for a meeting between all five parties where the leaders openly address the issues.  

However, Muhammad Rauf, a member of the KIU political bureau, said that opposition groups must agree to hold such a meeting first.

“We are waiting for the KIU leader to return to Kurdistan to participate in the opposition meeting. Then a meeting between the five leaders will be held,” he said. Rauf acknowledged the verbal attacks that have been exchanged between Gorran and KIU supporters, describing them as a “reaction.” He said it will not affect the meetings. “The next meeting must be fundamentally different,” he said. “The leaders must openly discuss the issues and find solutions for them, because we cannot keep holding meetings forever.” At the last meeting involving all five parties, both the opposition and ruling parties agreed to implement reforms and amend some of the legislation in parliament. Establishing a joint committee to negotiate with Baghdad has also brought the parties together.  

“In the next meeting between the five leaders, all the issues will be discussed,” Rauf said, “including the constitution.” However Muhammad Rahim, Gorran’s public officer, said, “We are very upset with the results of our meeting with the KDP leadership. We agreed that it is useless to hold meetings with the KDP.” He added, “We will hold meetings with the opposition groups, but it is impossible to meet with KDP anymore.”