World Bulletin - Kamal Chomani
While President Masoud Barzani was in a meeting with the French President François Hollande, discussing the Kurdistan Region’s booming economy and democracy, his Kurdistan Democratic Party was in another meeting with Jalal Talabani’s party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, breaching the laws and violating the most basic principles of democracy in their effort to extend Barzani’s incumbent term for another two years. However, a surprising development occurred when a few of the PUK’s Politburo members and the KDP agreed, in a clandestine meeting, to postpone extending Barzani’s term until August 19, 2015, and to extend the Parliament’s term to be continued till November 1, 2013.
President Barzani, in a speech delivered on the occasion of the 36th Anniversary of the Gullan Revolution in Hawler on May 26, 2013, promised his constituency that Presidential, Legislative and Provincial Elections would be held in September 21, 2013. He also accused the opposition parties of becoming obstacles to the elections. After his announcement, the Independent High Electoral Commission confirmed that the commission had prepared all the facilities for the dated elections. Soon afterwards, the registration dates for presidential candidates were announced to be between June 10th and June 30th, which was later extended until July 10th. 8 politicians registered as candidates in the presidential elections race.
Everything was in order for the presidential elections to be held on September 21st—a date decided on by Barzani himself The Independent High Electoral Commission was very well prepared, opposition parties were about to announce their nominees, 8 politicians had already registered, Parliament had passed a special law– in the absence of a constitution— for the Kurdistan Presidency (Law No 1, year 2005), people and media had no problems with the presidential election, and the Kurdistan Region had not been involved in any wars and natural disasters which could be used as an excuse to extend the term. The only reason Barzani’s term was extended was that the KDP couldn’t find a loophole in the presidency law to allow Barzani to run for a third term. According to the Presidency Law of 2005, the President of Kurdistan Region could only run for two four-year terms.
As stated on the Kurdistan Presidential website, the president can be “elected by secret ballot in a popular vote every four years and can stand for election for a second term.” The current Presidency law would not allow Barzani to run for presidential elections, and passing the drafted constitution, which would give the president the chance to be re-elected again, would be difficult due to the limited period of time for its approval by the people in a few weeks. Furthermore, opposition parties and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan had already shown their disagreement with passing the constitution to a referendum unless their demands to modify numerous articles were met. Opposition parties (the Gorran Movement led by Nawsherwan Mustafa, Islamic Union led by Muhammad Faraj and Islamic Group led by Ali Bapir), other minor parties, the PUK along with the public and free media have a unanimous perspective on the constitution to be amended, while only the KDP opposes.
Ultimately, in an agreement between the KDP and part of the PUK’s leadership, a law that would extend Barzani’s term for two more years was proposed.
So why did this extension create tensions inside parliament to the extent that a Gorran MP threw a bottle of water at Speaker of the Parliament, Dr Erselan Bayiz of the PUK. And why was this law called a ‘dictatorship’ and ‘treason’ by journalists and the public?
First of all, the parliamentary regulations stipulate that any proposed law to be introduced for discussion on the floor should be distributed to MPs at least 48 hours in advance of the session. However, the proposed bill for extending Barzani’s term was not distributed to the MPs until the session started. This served as a clear indication of a pre-planned conspiracy by the KDP and certain factions in the PUK to pass an illegal law, with a PUK leader Arez Abdulla calling it a “coup on parliament.”
As opposition MP from the Gorran entity Kardo Muhammad said, the parliament could extend neither its own term nor the president’s term. Barzani was proudly saying that he by himself asked the parliament to pass a law that the president should be elected by the popular vote of the people, so that his term can be extended by the people in a referendum rather than the parliament. Barzani was not elected in the parliament, so why should his term be extended in the parliament?
The extension of Barzani’s term was a threat to Kurdistan’s so-called thriving democracy as it becomes a habit to which any president can resort. Violating the principles of democracy for the sake of a single man is by all values against human rights. Barzani should have acted as a Mandella by leaving the position so as to make a statement that, in our society, power belongs to the people rather than individuals, but instead he chose to act like Hosni Mobarak.
Aram Qadir, an opposition MP from the Islamic Group, told the media that Barzani’s extension was a trick and the KDP and PUK fooled the masses. He further elaborated that according to parliamentary laws, Presidential and Legislative elections should be held simultaneously. And now that Legislative elections will be held by September 21, 2013 and Barzani’s term has been extended to August 2015, it will be problematic. Either Parliament should dissolve once Barzani’s two year extension ends and then hold simultaneous elections, or Barzani’s term should be extended again in August 2015 since it will be illegal if only presidential elections are held alone. As Qadir noted, of course the KDP and PUK will extend his term for two more years because Parliament cannot dissolve itself as it is elected for a four-, not two-, year period.
As two Kurdish intellectuals expressed in one of their co-articles for Weekly Awene, the ‘Kurdistan parliament is a big lie.’ Mariwan Wrya and Aras Fatah wrote: “Kurdish politics is a dark politics and what’s present in this darkness is conspiracies and underground agreements for secretly distributing power, not debates and open dialogues. This is a kind of blind conflict over power and only directs hate and social disasters.”
People have called the extension of Barzani’s term as a real intention for dictatorship, as a Gorran MP announced on Pro-KDP Rudaw TV that “Barzani is a dictator, he is no different than Libyan former president Al-Gaddafi.”
In the Kurdistan Region, day after day, authoritarianism is developing. This authoritarianism has emerged as a real threat. The KDP and PUK have controlled all the joints of social, political and economic life. Yet the KRG is divided into two different zones: KDP and PUK. Peshmerga forces are still under the control of the KDP and PUK. Police are still divided, as the KDP police cannot operate in a PUK zone, and vice versa. Security forces are not national forces as they belong to the KDP and PUK. The oil income has become a curse for the people and has created a corrupt elite. Oil contracts are still between the giant oil companies and a few politicians— recently Hama Jaza, Ashti Hawrami’s deputy of the Natural Resources Ministry is proof of this. In the KRG, if someone wants to obtain a simple job, he/she should have connections within the two ruling parties. Universities are still under the control of these two ruling parties. Regional and foreign relations are still formulated via these two ruling parties, etc, etc, etc…
In a police state and corrupt system like this, any move by any political leader must be extremely questioned because ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ as we saw yesterday in the Kurdistan Parliament. All in all, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq no longer possesses a legal president who has been elected by the people through ballots. Kurds in Iraq now have a president who has been forced on them by violating the principles of democracy.
Twitter: @KamalChomaniGüncelleme Tarihi: 02 Temmuz 2013, 18:42