Christian Parties Look for a Place in the New Cabinet

church2_opt_788153621.jpg St. Joseph’s Church in Ainkawa, Erbil. Photo
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan – Christian parties in the Kurdistan Region say their community should not be marginalized in the new cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Christian leaders hope the KRG will grant them significant ministerial and government posts.

Head of the Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Romeo Hakari, told Rudaw, “In the meeting of the Assyrian-Chaldean parties with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, we explained that the posts given to us need to match the composition of our community. Barzani promised to take that into consideration.”

Hakari said that his party is in the process of selecting its candidates for ministerial and other posts in the new cabinet.

The Assyrian-Chaldean Coalition, which consists of 10 parties, is vying for at least two ministerial posts, a number of public administrative posts and advisory posts in the Kurdish Council of Ministers.

Hakari said the Christian parties will join the KRG and formally present their demands to PM Barzani.

“We also demand the posts of deputies to the governors of Duhok and Erbil,” said Hakari.

The current Duhok deputy governor is already a member of the Assyrian-Chaldean community.

In the previous KRG cabinet, the Ministry of Trade was run by a Christian.

Hakari said, “The method of selecting the Assyrian ministers in the sixth KRG cabinet was not normal. They were brought from Europe and were not members of our political parties, so we were not satisfied with our share in the government.”

Hakari said the region’s Christian parties would fight to get the ministries of Education and Culture.

Since its foundation in 1992, Kurdistan’s Christian community has been involved in the running of KRG affairs. Now, with widespread discontent at the performance of local authorities, Hakari believes the new cabinet will bring about changes before the Christian community is forced to join the opposition front.

“Public discontent towards the KRG performance is considerable,” he said. “This has people ask our parties to act as opposition, but we want to become true partners in the government.”

At the moment, the Christian community has five seats in the Kurdish Parliament based on a quota system.

Salim Toma, leader of the Rafidain bloc and a senior leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, said that he was not satisfied with their share in the sixth KRG cabinet.

“This participation did not reflect the ambitions of our nation,” he said. “The ministerial post that was given to the Assyrian-Chaldean was ineffective. We are from this country and not guests.”

Toma added, “From now on, ministerial and administrative posts should be given to members of parties who have public support, and not to parties who do not even have a headquarters.”

In Iraqi Kurdistan, there are around 70 Christian schools and numerous cultural and athletic centers.

Amir Huzairan, a senior member of Bet-Nahrain, said that posts are given to Christians, but often the community does not have a say in selecting candidates.

“There are some posts given to Assyrian-Chaldeans, but the candidates are selected by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and not by us,” he said.