nsnbc : Masoud Barzani, President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KAR) has announced that he is stepping down as president but that he will remain serving Kurdistan as Peshmerga. In a letter to parliament Barzani stated that he rejects an extension of his term as president. The announcement came amidst tensions following the independence referendum on September 25 and amidst violence in the region yesterday.
Masoud Barzani, who had been criticized for having illegally prolonged his presidency stated “I refuse to continue the position of president of the region after November 1, 2017,” while he was advising the parliament to resolve the matter of the duties and powers of the president to ensure there is no “legal vacuum.” For himself, he said, “I, as Masoud Barzani the Peshmerga, will continue with our nation and beloved Peshmerga in endeavors to achieve the just rights of our nation and protect the achievements of our nation.”
Masoud Barzani will also remain in Kurdish politics as leader of the High Political Council, his senior assistant Hemin Hawrami told reporters. The High Political Council was formed to replace the High Referendum Council to take the lead in the post-referendum phase.
Barzani’s announcement came amidst a parliament session that was halted for an hour following the eruption of tensions after the Change Movement showed opposition to a bill which contains the mechanism of distributing the Kurdistan Region President’s authorities. Abdulrahman reportedly stressed that the Change Movement MPs became angry after the bill suggesting the distribution of Barzani’s authorities over the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and parliament and Judicial Council temporarily, was read. Gorran reportedly demanded that Barzani’s or the presidents powers be given to the speaker of parliament alone.
In the early evening hours a group of protesters gathered in front of the parliament, demanding an apology from an MP who they claim insulted the Peshmerga and President Masoud Barzani. Earlier in the day, a scuffle broke out when Gorran MP Rabun Maroof was speaking to media. He was speaking about the Peshmerga, describing them as heroes when a group of men interrupted him, accusing him of saying the Peshmerga had fled Kirkuk. Maroof denied saying that. He was pushed back from the microphones and into the parliament building.
Kurdish broadcaster NRT reported that one of their reporters and a cameraman were attacked by people carrying sticks during a live broadcast in front of the parliament. Their reporter Rebwar Kakaiy has been severely injured, the broadcaster said.
Later Sunday night the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Zakho, Duhok province were torched by unknown persons. Duhok is a stronghold of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP has condemned the incident. There are reports that Gorran offices have also been attacked in Zakho. Violence has also taken place in Erbil, outside the parliament as emotions run high with the resignation of President Masoud Barzani. Shortly before midnight (local time) the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called on the Asayesh security forces to prevent further violence.
F/AK – nsnbc 30.10.2017