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HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— A professor from the American University of Tennessee, Michael Gunter said on Wednesday that Massoud Barzani’s opposition to step down from his position as Iraq’s Kurdistan Region President has resulted in the continued political crisis in the region.
During a two-day conference titled ‘Iraqi Kurdistan at a Crossroads: Current Issues of Domestic and Middle Eastern Politics’ held in Erbil, Gunter said the Kurdistan Region is facing a political crisis due to “Massoud Barzani’s refusal to step down from his presidency.”
Barzani’s two-year presidential term extension expired at midnight on August 20, 2015, after which he then sought another two-year presidency term.
“[This is] despite his extraordinary two-year extension that had ended in August 2015 on top of the earlier two-four-year terms in office that ended in August 2013,” Gunter, a professor of political science, said.
According to Gunter, the sacking of Change Movement (Gorran) cabinet members and the blocking of the parliament speaker – a Gorran member – from entering Erbil was in an effort to preserve the presidency position of Masoud Barzani.
“The supposedly unified KRG still exhibited deep divisions between the various Kurdish parties and factions. Indeed at one time or another every major Kurdish political party has fought other existing ones,” he added.
The KRG’s major anti-terrorism forces run by two “rival” Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) “makes the KRG’s unity even more difficult.”
Massoud Barzani’s second term as president ended in July 2013 but was extended by two years by Kurdish MPs who said the region was not ready to elect a new leader at the time.
Crises inside Iraqi Kurdistan deepened following the expiration of Massoud Barzani’s term as president in August 2015. Barzani refused to step down and remains unofficially in office.
According to the law, Barzani cannot run for presidency anymore but his KDP party insists that Massoud Barzani should remain president of the region.
The Kurdistan parliament has been closed since October 2015 after parliament’s Speaker Yusuf Mohammed Sadiq, from Gorran, was prevented by Massoud Barzani forces from entering Erbil city on October 12, 2015 and Kurdistan PM Nechirvan Barzani has removed four members of his cabinet from the Change Movement and replaced them with KDP politicians.
The Kurdish opposition accused the Barzani and his KDP of a monopoly all government’s positions in Erbil, and it does not believe in the principles of true partnership and peaceful transfer of power.
Barzani said in March 2016 I will not leave power until Kurdistan get statehood. “The day we have an independent Kurdistan, I will cease to be the president of that Kurdistan”
Barzani has been accused by critics of amassing huge wealth for his family instead of serving the population. Barzani’s son is the Kurdistan region’s intelligence chief and his nephew Nechirvan Barzani is the prime minister.
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