Representatives from several political parties in the Kurdistan Region will meet in Erbil on Monday (February 24) with the Region’s top political leadership to discuss the ongoing government formation process in Baghdad.
The meeting will include Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, and Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Rewaz Fayaq, along with representatives from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Change Movement (Gorran), the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG).
Members of the Kurdish bloc have been meeting with Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi in order to resolve their differences ahead of the expected presentation of his proposed cabinet later this week.
Allawi has promised to present a cabinet with independent ministers, circumventing the horse-trading of Iraq’s quota system where the parties divide ministries and positions between them in order to dole out political patronage to their supporters.
Both the Kurdish and Sunni blocs have raised objections about the process, saying that they have the right to select ministerial candidates from their communities.
Monday’s meeting in Erbil will review the negotiations to date and seek to form a position for the Kurdistan Region’s parties moving forward, according to PUK-affiliated media.
A senior source in the parties’ negotiating team told NRT Digital Media in an interview on Sunday night after returning to Erbil from Baghdad that discussions with Allawi were continuing.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that the disagreement was due to the attitude that the prime minister-designate had taken with regard to dealing with the Kurdish Region, rather than a clash over the number of ministers allocated to the Kurds as a part of Iraq’s ethno-sectarian balancing system.
The KDP and PUK have justified their opposition to Allawi’s approach by citing the Kurdistan Region’s unique constitutional status, while the other parties have appeared more amenable to hearing out the prime minister-designate.
KIG lawmaker Ahmed Haji Rashid confirmed in a tweet that the parties would be meeting on Monday, but said that hopes that the government formation process will not be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
In a phone call with Allawi on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urges him to “to resolve differences with Iraq’s Kurdish and Sunni political leaders to assure success in pursuing the vital tasks faced by his government.”