Shiite delegation urges Kurdish role in post-ISIS Iraq

2017/04/23 | 20:15

(Iraq News)- ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A visiting Shiite delegation has stressed the importance of Kurds as a nation within a unified Iraq and urged Kurdish authorities to take part in rebuilding Iraq as they did in 2003 following the collapse of the ex-Baathist regime. Speaking at a joint press conference following a meeting with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a member of the delegation representing firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said the “fate” of Iraqi groups including “Kurds, Arabs, Shiite or Sunnis,  Christians, and Yezidis is to stay in one Iraq.”

 Sabah Saadi called for the different groups of the country to hold a national meeting to resolve the existing crisis.“Our project is for a strong Iraq.

We need the support of the political parties of the Kurdistan Region for its implementation,” Saadi said. Talking about the Kurds, the Shiite leader said “not only are the Kurds the second nation in Iraq, but indeed the main part is them.” “Co-existence is in the interest of the Iraqis as a whole,” he answered when asked to comment on the referendum Kurds are planning to hold later this year. The Shiite delegation presented the PUK with the same two-point project they had proposed to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in a meeting on Saturday.

The project is related to holding elections across the country after the current Independent High Electoral Commission is replaced by a new one, as demanded by Sadr as part of government reforms, and a new law is in place which could satisfy Iraqis as a whole. Saadi Ahmed Pira, a senior leader of the PUK who spoke at the joint press conference, echoed the need to change Iraq’s election law, saying he shared the Sadr party’s view that the law is not in the interest of Iraqis.

 “We received the Sadr’s message which contained many things, above all the election law and change to the current election commission,” said Pira. Pira added the current election law does the Kurdistan Region’s provinces “harm.” Under the current electoral system, gaining a seat in parliament requires receiving a set minimum number of votes, but that minimum is not standard across the nation. “For example, a seat in the Diwaniya province requires only 17,000 votes while, the same seat in Erbil and Sulaimani requires 49,000 votes,” Pira explained, demanding to know why this imbalance existed. Diwaniya lies south of Baghdad.

Erbil and Sulaimani are Kurdish cities.Pira added they will discuss the Sadr “reform projects” as they support “any reform plans which would benefit Iraqi citizens without discrimination.”Sadr has long been calling for changes to the election law and the electoral commission whose president is from the KDP.

Supporters of Sadr have, on his call, marched in the streets of Baghdad many times demanding such government reforms.  Sadr’s party believes the change is in the interests of the Iraqi people demanding the commission be free from political interference. The next provincial elections are due to be held in September. Pira said they also backed the second project of Sadr which highlights the post-ISIS phase in Mosul.  “ISIS ruined co-existence in Mosul after what they committed against the Christians and Yezidis,” he said. 

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