Gorran refuses to join referendum committee as others ponder timeline

2017/04/24 | 12:00

(Iraq News)- ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Change Movement (Gorran) has refused to send its delegates to a committee tasked with overseeing the much-anticipated Kurdish independence referendum in 2017.Samal Abdullah, a senior member of Gorran said: “We will of course not send our representative to this committee.”Fuad Hussein, chief of staff of the Kurdistan Region Presidency told Rudaw they had called on all political parties including Gorran to appoint and send the referendum committee representatives.Abdullah believes that “this process is a national and patriotic matter and that it is parliament’s business to decide on it," not the political parties.Gorran which has the second most seats in parliament, along with the Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group (Komal) — all members of the Kurdish coalition government — say they are in favor of the referendum, but it must have a mandate from the parliament.Following a meeting between the region’s ruling parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on April 11 in Erbil to discuss the matter of referendum they agreed to form a committee, consisting of seven political parties, five major Kurdish parties, plus two seats reserved for the Turkmen and Christian minorities.Shortly afterwards, Gorran refused to meet with the joint committee.“Holding a referendum and independence for Kurdistan have been founding principles of the Gorran party since its formation.

This is a national cause which shouldn’t be discussed between two political parties.

Rather, it should be debated and voted on in the parliament as the highest legal authority in the region,” Shorsh Haji, spokesperson of the Gorran told Rudaw in an interview. The committee, however, has not been set up yet due to major political differences, especially between the KDP and the Gorran.Abdullah, who is also member of the Gorran National Council added “the subject of independence and creating a state needs a political unanimity, a national reconciliation and reactivation of the legitimate institutions of Kurdistan.”He said his party has prioritized solving the existing financial crunch the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been suffering for nearly three years.He also warned that the government has to “solve the problem of civil servants as there is growing fear that there will not be a considerable number of people taking part in this process."The PUK echoed the sentiment that an independence referendum in Kurdistan cannot be realized without reactivating the now-paralyzed Kurdish parliament and seeking solutions for the outstanding political problems.

However, the KDP says referendum does not need a mandate from the Kurdish legislatureThe PUK, which has joined the KDP to form a multi-party committee to set a timeframe and mechanism for the referendum, says that they made their views clear to the KDP leadership in their last meeting earlier this month.The KDP and PUK convened on Sunday, for a third time in a month, this time discussing reactivating the now-paralyzed Kurdish parliament to serve the development of the looming Kurdish referendum on independence, read a joint statement from both parties.PUK and Gorran held a meeting on Saturday on the issue of independence.

In a joint statement issued after that meeting, they said that holding the referendum is the natural right of the Kurdistan nation and they support holding referendum in the so-called disputed areas, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.Abdullah said in Sunday’s meeting they expressed their growing concerns over any deal probably they reached with the KDP in the course of their continued meetings in April.“We frankly passed our concerns and views to our friends from the PUK,” he said, adding that the PUK’s response was promising.“They said they had not signed any deal with the KDP over holding the referendum.

But rather, they convened with the KDP to set up the mechanism of referendum and that they did not make any decision.”The Kurdish parliament has not convened since October 2015 when its speaker was barred from entering Erbil.

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