Thursday, July 23, 2009

“No compromise” over Kirkuk

Massoud Barzani declares “unity” of Kurdistan’s people a priority

By Ako Muhammed

Barzani announces his presidential election agenda; considers Kurdistan’s Constitution more important than being president

Kurdistan Region’s current president and presidential candidate Massoud Barzani announced the priorities of his electoral agenda and his political attitude on crucial issues in Kurdistan in an election rally in Suleimaniya on Sunday.

“We exert our absolute efforts to carry out Article 140 of the federal Constitution. We promise to Kurdistan people that we will not compromise on this article or on any other rights of our people,” said Barzani, remarking on his policy on incorporating the disputed areas, including Kirkuk and other places, into Kurdistan Region. The Kurds’ demands and achievements are much less than their sacrifices, he added.

The unity of the Kurdistan people was another priority declared by Barzani, one of several candidates in the Kurdistan Region presidential election to be held along with the region parliamentary election on July 25. Four other candidates are competing to win the highest post in the region besides Barzani, who is the only candidate for both governing Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), under his leadership, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The two parties are allied in one list, the Kurdistani List, for parliamentary elections.

“The strategic agreement between the KDP and PUK is an essential agreement that aims to protect the high interests of Kurdistan and to guarantee an enlightened future for our people,” said Barzani, who also assured that he would “never allow another civil war among Kurds.”

Barzani’s agenda also included “defending democratic principles, guaranteeing individual freedom and rights, political and religious rights of people in Kurdistan, adopting the culture of tolerance, accepting each other as well as protecting the freedom of press.”

“Our claims are not extremist or racist. None of our claims is outside the federal Constitution that 80 to 85% of Iraqi people have voted for,” said Barzani, blaming some officials in the Baghdad government for boosting and suspending the issues of disputed areas, Kurdistan Peshmarga, and oil as a result of “their denial of the Constitution.”

On the Erbil-Baghdad disputes over oil, Barzani confirmed that Iraqi oil is for all Iraqi people. Now 100,000 barrels of oil per day is produced in Kurdistan Region, and the revenues go to the Iraqi people; the Region’s share, however, is kept.

Barzani noted that he is against the nature of the governing system of Baghdad, which is now the equivalent of a "monopolizing authority."

“The same as oil, the Iraqi army is a wealth for all of Iraq. We are very worried that a person alone in Baghdad rebuilds the army, neglecting entire agreements,” pointing to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Barzani noted that Kurds should also have a role and share in building the new army units. “We, with the other parties, took part in bringing down the former regime; now, ostensibly, we are a part of the [federal] authority.”

Barzani criticized the staffing of the newly built Iraqi army’s 14 to 15 divisions with commanders appointed according to decrees issued by a single person. Appointing commanders must be approved by Parliament and the Republic’s President, as is stated in the Constitution. “…The balance of military formation must be taken into account. We in Kurdistan have the right to be sure that the army, once again, is not educated to destroy Kurdistan and torture the Iraqi people.”

The Kurdistan Region President warned that the Kurds “will not leave the governing in Baghdad for some other people.” He noted, “Our struggle seeks our rights and democracy for Iraq….Our struggle is based on the Constitution through which we try to settle all problems.”

On the controversial Kurdistan Region Constitution, which was recently passed by Kurdistan Region’s Parliament, Barzani assured that “the existence of a Constitution for the Region is more important than the existence of a president for the Region.” He was addressing voices inside the Region antagonist to the Constitution project because of so much authority allowed to the President.

“The Region authority in the Constitution is stated according to law. If there are still some articles in the Constitution that are not in the interests of Kurdistan and the people of Kurdistan, then I call on Parliament to remove them,” stated Barzani. He noted that the final decision is for the people of Kurdistan Region to approve the draft as the Constitution or not.

Meanwhile, the President described those outside the Region who oppose the Constitution as “chauvinists.” “The chauvinists are against the [Kurdistan] Constitution and against the existence of Kurds and Kurdistan. Therefore, we say to them that we will never consult with them and their attitude has no worth to the people of Kurdistan.”

The Kurdish Globe

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