PUK Wants Strategic Agreement to Correct Balance of Power

28/09/2012 RUDAW  By HEVIDAR AHMED – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Five years ago, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), signed a strategic agreement. The PUK is now demanding the reevaluation of two provisions in this agreement. The KDP says it is ready to revise all the provisions of the agreement if deemed necessary.

A statement recently released by the PUK read: “The strategic agreement is still fundamental and is the achievement of bilateral relations between the PUK and KDP. It still preserves its fateful importance, but it also needs reevaluation. Whenever a reevaluation is needed, we should discuss it with our ally (KDP) in a peaceful manner.”

Halo Penjweni, a PUK leadership member, said the need to reevaluate was created by politics and the rapid developments in Iraq, Kurdistan and the region. “When an agreement is signed, it does not mean that both sides only get benefits; they also get some disadvantages,” he added. “Both sides might think that they have more disadvantages than the other. We need to reevaluate the agreement in a way that answers our contemporary needs.” According to Penjweni, the strategic agreement states that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) rules areas from Zakho to Garmiyan. The PUK might think it is at a disadvantage in the areas controlled by the KDP. “Even in Mosul, the PUK does not have any district administrators or mayors and it doesn’t have any administrative posts in Duhok either,” he said. “The same is true for the KDP in Sulaimani and Garmiyan,” he added. “For this reason, the PUK deems it necessary to achieve balance in this partnership. Political decisions must be taken jointly and rights and duties must be equal.”

When Penjweni was asked whether the KDP has made any unilateral decisions without informing the PUK, he said, “The answer to this question is clear and obvious. We all know it.” Jaafar Ibrahim, a KDP spokesperson, has previously talked about the balance between the PUK and KDP and said that, while his party supports the agreement, it is not possible to run the district administrations in a 50-50 manner.

Fareed Assasard, a leadership member of the PUK, talked about the points of the strategic agreement his party wants revised. “In the strategic agreement, the PUK and KDP are to run in the elections as one bloc. This point needs to be reevaluated,” he said. “Also, the PUK has some proposals to broaden the agreement.” Assasard said that there are two important points in the agreement the PUK wants focus on in the talks with the KDP. “First, making political decisions in a bilateral manner and preventing unilateral decisions for both sides. Second, the decentralization of power in areas below the ministries has caused some problems and the PUK believes there is an imbalance in that respect,” he said. It has been said that the PUK was previously against decentralization and the redistribution of powers because it does not have the majority in the provincial council of Sulaimani and might lose many important posts to the Change Movement (Gorran).

“The KRG is a coalition government between the PUK and KDP. Some of the powers have been given to other parties. But, when it comes to the general administrators, mayors, governors and district administrators, these posts are tied to amending the election laws in the provinces,” said Penjweni.

Regarding whether the PUK will accept increasing the authorities of the provincial councils, even if it’s not in its interests in Sulaimani, Penjweni said, “We do not know yet how these laws will be amended. But, if this happened, then PUK representatives in the provincial councils of Erbil and Duhok, who have no power now, would gain more power.”

The provincial council of Sulaimani consists of 42 members. Five of them are of KDP, five are from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), 21 from Gorran and the remaining eight are PUK. Penjweni said, “If the provincial council of Sulaimani creates problems for the PUK, then problems would be created for the KDP in Erbil and Duhok as well. In the provincial councils of Erbil and Duhok, there are representatives of the KIU, Kurdistan Islamic League (Komal), PUK, Gorran and other groups. Therefore, we will not have problems decentralizing powers if all is done legally.”Jutiyar Adil, head of the Sarinj Center for research, said, “The strategic agreement does not reflect the common perspectives of the PUK and KDP. Therefore, instead of this agreement, we need a constitution for the Kurdistan Region where the rules of running this country are all covered.” “The intention of the PUK might be to seek the post of the Kurdistan Region presidency, and giving the KDP a post in the Iraqi government,” said Adil.