Â A supporter of the Kurdistani List holds a poster of the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, Leaders of PUK and KDP, during an electoral campaign ceremony in Erbil, June 24. GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamed
The Kurdish GlobeLeaders vow to protect achievements and “fulfill Kurdish people’s wishes
Tens of thousands attend the opening election rally of the Kurdistani List, marking the beginning of Kurdistan Region’s electoral campaign.
The Kurdistani list–composed of the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani–officially launched its electoral campaign on Wednesday.
Kurdistan’s election began in earnest on Monday, with billboards, banners, posters and fliers sprouting up everywhere. Big-name candidates are being greeted like rock stars, and patriotic songs are blaring from cars on the streets.
Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary and presidential elections will occur July 25. Twenty-four political entities will participate on different lists-many of them for the first time -battling for Parliament’s 111 seats. Eleven seats, according to the Region’s election law, have been set aside for non-Kurdish minorities (five Turkmen seats, five Christian seats, and one Armenian seat), and female representation must be at least 30 percent.
Candidates have also registered to contest the presidency of Kurdistan Region.
According to the Iraqi Electoral Commission, approximately 2.5 million people are registered to vote. Kurds outside the Kurdish region, mainly in the provinces of Mosul and Kirkuk, are not allowed to participate.
The election campaign of the Kurdistani List kicked off in Erbil stadium with the participation of tens of thousands of people and high-ranking officials of the KDP and PUK, including presidents Talabani and Barzani.
Talabani opened the campaign with a speech: “I ask people in Kurdistan to vote for the Kurdistani List, since it can protect the achievements and fulfill the Kurdish people’s wishes.”
He told non-Kurdish peoples in Kurdistan, such as Christians, Turcomans, and Arabs, that they can have their autonomy within the Kurdistan Region border.
Talabani described the hard times the PUK and KDP faced during the rebellion and all the obstacles the Iraqi regime and neighboring countries created in order to impede the creation of a federal Kurdistan Region.
He asked the people to elect Barzani as the president of Kurdistan Region: “Barzani is the best person to become president of Kurdistan Region. He is a struggler, a leader. He is the son of a legendary Kurdish leader and he is skillful and well-known in Iraq and the world.”
After Talabani, Barzani delivered a speech in which he requested that July 25 become a national holiday and show a positive image of Kurdistan Region to the world.
“We have promised our people that the election will be free and transparent, thus we have demanded the Iraq High Electoral Independent Commission to bring the most foreign observers from Europe, the United States and Arab countries, as well as neighboring countries to observe the election,” said Barzani.
He spoke of the importance of the KDP and PUK participating in the election as one united list, saying that it shows to the world that the PUK and KDP are close to each other and Kurdish enemies cannot play with Kurdistan’s determination.
In his speech, Dr. Barham Saleh, Iraqi deputy Prime Minister and head of the Kurdistani list, promised that, in the new government’s Cabinet, the KDP and PUK would fight corruption and serve the people better.
“In the coming four years, we want to make big reform in politics, administration and services; we want Kurdistan Region to reach a stage where it is freed from political, economical, and security fears,” said Saleh.
The Kurdistani List is composed of the two main political parties in the region: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
The head of the Kurdistani List is Dr. Barham Saleh, the current Iraqi deputy Prime Minister. There is talk among KDP and PUK officials that Saleh may be the next prime minister in the region.
The PUK and KDP have controlled Kurdistan Region since 1991, and were the main parties who fought against the Iraqi regime during the rebellion.
The Kurdistani List proclaims that it will preserve all the political, economical, and social achievements that the region has gained since 1991, and that it will maintain security and stability in the region.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
Under the leadership of Mullah Mustafa Barzani, father of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Democratic Party was founded in 1946.
“KDP’s intent is that people in Kurdistan should live with honor, peace, safety, freedom, and democracy on our Kurdistan soil–our own soil that belongs to us. This is our national aspiration.”
The KDP says it works for a strong Kurdistan Regional Government and Parliament. It wants a federal, plural, and democratic Iraq.
It says the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the north and other disputed areas in northern Iraq are part of Kurdistan Region and should be annexed to the Region.
Although the KDP believes that an independent state is a natural right of Kurdistan’s people, it prefers that Kurdistan Region be part of Iraq as a federal region.
Fadhil Mirani is the head of the KDP politburo, Nechirvan Barzani is a member of the politburo and Kurdistan Prime Minister, and Hoshyar Zebari is a member of the politburo and also Iraqi Foreign Minister.
Patriotic Union Kurdistan (PUK)
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was founded in June 1975, some two months after the collapse of the Kurdish rebellion of 1974-1975.
The PUK proclaims that it struggles for democracy, freedom, and equality; against dictatorship, war, occupation, and aggression; against national, class, and religious oppression; and against suppression of human rights, gender discrimination, and terrorism. It struggles to fulfill the right of self-determination, cooperation, and co-existence of nations in peace and harmony.
The PUK struggles to attain the right of self-determination for the people of Kurdistan. It struggles to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. It seeks to establish a democratically elected Kurdistan National Assembly, which would be the highest power in Kurdistan. The Assembly will be elected in a free, direct, and secret election by universal suffrage of all inhabitants, 18 years and older, of Iraqi Kurdistan, with no racial, language, or religious discrimination. The executive authority of Kurdistan will be elected by the Kurdistan National Assembly, and will also be dissolved by the same authority.
It says judiciary is independent and will not be subordinate to any other power except the law, and will not be interfered with by other powers. And it works to facilitate the return of Kurdish deportees to their original areas.
The PUK wants a federal region for Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and believes Kirkuk and all disputed areas should be returned to the Region.
Jalal Talabani, a former student leader, lawyer, journalist, and resistance leader, has been the Secretary General of the PUK since its founding in 1975. Kosrat Rasul, Kurdistan Region Vice President, is considered the second most-powerful man in the PUK, and Dr. Barham Saleh the third.