PUK & KDP Feel Sidelined by Each Other in Their Provinces

04/09/2012 RUDAW By HEVIDAR AHMED – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –Shalaw Ali Askari, a member of the leadership committee of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), says it’s his party’s right to hold government posts in areas outside Sulaimani province. “Because it is our right and the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) knows this very well,” Askari, also a PUK official in Duhok province, told Rudaw.

He said that the issue of PUK getting government posts in Duhok, such as mayoral and administrative posts, needs to be addressed. “These are PUK rights given through the existing strategic agreement between us. We are unable to reach out to the people and convey the message of our party. This situation cannot go on in this manner. It is impossible,” Askari added.

In the central committal meeting of the PUK, held in Duhok last week, the party criticized the KDP for not granting land to PUK martyrs, and denying government posts and employment to PUK members. Although the PUK and KDP have a standing strategic agreement as partners in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Askari said the KDP “Still needs to explain to us whether the PUK has rights in the Badinan region or not. If we do not have rights, then we shall work as the opposition and explain our views to the public.”

KDP members similarly criticized the PUK for not allowing them to work in the Sulaimani and Garmiyan regions. They too believe the PUK uses different pretexts for denying KDP members employment and important government posts. A KDP leadership official in Sulaimani said that KDP members are denied many rights in Sulaimani in terms of receiving administrative and mayoral posts.

“We are treated badly within PUK administrative borders,” said Abdulwahab Ali, spokesperson of KDP’s leadership council in Sulaimani. “The history of the PUK in Sulaimani is different from the history of the KDP in Duhok. From the day the PUK was founded until the present, the PUK has not had any influence in the Badinan region. But 90 percent of KDP leaders since its early days have come from Sulaimani.”

Ali believes a comparison can be made by weighing support for the PUK in Duhok against that of the KDP in Sulaimani. “This reality on the ground exists despite the fact that the KDP controls no significant posts in either Sulaimani or Garmiyan,” he said.

“The PUK does not allow plots of land to be granted to KDP martyrs within their controlled territories,” Ali added. “We received promises during the premiership of Barham Salih that land would be granted to KDP martyrs, but this has not happened yet.” According to Ali, the situation for KDP members is much worse in Garmiyan than in Sulaimani, where he claims thousands of KDP members have been left without government jobs. Mahmoud Sangawi, a PUK official admitted that KDP members are not allowed to work as government employees. “This is something that cannot be denied. The PUK has no government posts in Badinan region and the same goes for KDP in Sulaimani,” he said.

Arez Abdullah, a leadership member of the PUK, criticized the KDP, saying, “People all know that the majority of residents in a town like Choman are PUK members. Why is a PUK official not permitted to be mayor there? If the majority of people were KDP members in a town like Sulaimani, their mayor should be from the KDP as well.”“We would not see a problem if all KRG ministers were KDP members. But, the treatment of people is very important and political parties must not interfere in the government. We should learn from the civil war,” Abdullah added.

Ali Tatar, a KDP leadership member, said that those who demand government posts for PUK members within KDP-controlled regions do not understand the meaning of democracy. “It makes no sense to assign a PUK official in a region where the KDP enjoys greater support. You would not find such a situation in Europe or the United States,” he said.