Talabani seeks to amend Kurdistan region constitution

By Bassem Francis, Al-Hayat (Pan Arab). Al Monitor – Translated by al-monitor.com from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) alhayat.com – 13.12.2012 –  ‘Iraq’,

For the first time, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has reached an agreement with the opposition parties — most notably the Movement for Change (Gorran) — to resubmit a number of laws, including the Kurdistan Region’s draft constitution, to parliament, so that consensus may be reached on their validity.

Previous reports have stated that PUK supported the opposition’s view that the Kurdistan regional government should be changed from a presidential to a parliamentary system. However, the party of Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani is opposed to this, as it does not serve its interests.

The Kurdistan List, which represents the two main Kurdish parties, will hold a meeting today [Dec. 13] with the opposition parliamentary blocs to discuss the resubmission of returning nationwide laws to parliament for further debate. The Change bloc stated that this position will gain majority support and affect the positions of those who reject it. The meeting comes after the Joint Committee from PUK and the opposition Movement for Change raised a request to “resend nationwide laws to parliament for amendment,” most notably reformulating the controversial draft constitution of the Kurdish region.

On [Dec. 12], Kardo Mohammed, leader of the Change parliamentary bloc, told Al-Hayat that both the majority and the opposition blocs “will hold a meeting in parliament [on Dec. 13] to discuss the issue of referring laws of national concern and those directly linked to the life of the citizens to parliament.”

He noted that some of these laws affect or are related to “the Kurdish region’s security council, higher commissioner for elections, the right to protest, party budgets and elections in the [Kurdish] governorate.

“The agreement that a number of blocs in parliament reached on this orientation would affect the position of those who opposed the vote,” he added.

When asked about the position taken by Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party,www.ekurd.net Mohammed stated: “There is no other option other than to reach a consensus on laws that are directly linked to public life, and I think that the Democratic Party will agree.”

Discord has returned to Kurdish political circles regarding the system of government. Some demand that the presidential system be kept, while others have called for it to be turned into a parliamentary system.

The issue regarding the powers of the Kurdistan region’s president, Massoud Barzani, is again under scrutiny. This dispute had previously been sidelined as a result of the escalating crisis between the Kurdistan region and the central government, particularly over the disputed areas.

Kurdish political analyst Kifah Mahmoud told Al-Hayat: “The debate is limited to the submission of the Kurdish region’s draft constitution to the parliament. This is an unprecedented move: The draft was discussed, voted-on in parliament and submitted to the presidency of the region before it went to a referendum.

“It is possible that something took place between PUK and the Movement for Change, which used to be a part of the PUK, but then they agreed on most of the draft’s articles,” added Mahmoud. “The timing might not be ideal at present, as a result of the crisis between the KRG and the Baghdad-based central Iraqi government. Raising divisive issues at this stage could affect Kurdish unity,” he said. Regarding the Democratic Party’s position on the submission of these laws to parliament, Mahmoud said, “There is no problem, because everyone is looking to strengthen this experience.”