Christian minority to secure transport minister post in new Kurdistan cabinet

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Prime Minister-designate Masrour Barzani meets with members of a Christian party in Erbil, June 22, 2019. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Leaders of the Christian minority in the autonomous Kurdistan Region have reached an agreement with the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to be given a ministerial post in the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet, said the candidate on Saturday. Earlier that day, the regional Prime Minister-designate Masrour Barzani met with minority representatives, including leaders from the Turkmen, Chaldean, and Assyrian communities in Erbil, to discuss their participation in the new KRG government. Kurdistan 24 has learned that Ano Jawhar Abdoka is the candidate that will secure the post of Minister of Transport and Communications. “We have been assured by Barzani in his meetings that our rights will be secured in the new government cabinet,” Abdoka told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday evening.The Kurdistan Region held its parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) winning 45 seats. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Gorran Movement came in second and third place with 21 and 12 seats, respectively. Christian and Turkmen lawmakers in the regional parliament previously told Kurdistan 24 that the two minority groups had reached a deal between themselves, wherein a Turkmen candidate would take the second deputy speaker position in the regional parliament and Christians would get a ministerial post. Following the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014, most members of Iraq’s remaining Christian community were displaced to areas administered by the KRG, while others fled abroad. The region is now home to roughly 100,000 Christians that are spread across its four provinces, with the majority living in Erbil and Duhok. The autonomous region has a unicameral parliamentary legislature with 111 seats, with five quota seats each reserved for Turkmen and Christian parties and one seat specifically set aside for a member of an Armenian party. They also have their representative and Directorate-General of Christian Affairs in the KRG’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs. The culture of peaceful coexistence and social harmony has long historical roots in the Kurdish region. Indeed, Nechirvan Barzani, the former Prime Minister and the current President of the Kurdistan Region, as well as other senior leaders, have proudly stated that Christians are one of the indigenous people of the area, a melting pot of religious and ethnic minorities. Editing by John J. Catherine