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Kurdistan parties gear up for government formation - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani smiles during an interview with Reuters in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad June 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Azad Lashkari.)

Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani smiles during an interview with Reuters in Erbil, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, on June 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Azad Lashkari)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—Kurdistan region government parties moved closer to forming a new cabinet this week following high-level meetings between Kurdish political leaders.

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, representing the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), met with Gorran (Movement for Change) leader Nawshirwan Mustafa to discuss the formation of the new cabinet, particularly a deal that would see Gorran forego the post of deputy prime minister in return for the Interior Ministry portfolio. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which Gorran supplanted as Kurdistan’s second party, had previously held the post.

PUK spokesman and MP Salar Mahmud told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The post of deputy prime minister has nothing to do with the Interior Ministry, particularly as the post of deputy prime minister is not marginal and has powers.”

“The Pashmerga ministry is no less important than the interior ministry. This is a sovereign ministry and our party is looking at all ministerial posts equally.”

He affirmed that the parties are moving closer to reaching an agreement on the formation of a new government, adding that the PUK will support the formation of a “strong government with a broad base and real participation of the parties that secured a strong parliamentary electoral mandate.”

Mahmud told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting between Barzani and Mustafa “is the beginning of the road towards reaching a breakthrough on the issue of the government formation . . . The Gorran movement broke the boycott and is now negotiating directly with the PUK and KDP.”

He did not rule out the meeting serving as a “prelude to a long-term strategic deal between the KDP and Goran,” adding that the details of this deal have yet to be revealed and that it is being discussed behind closed doors.

Kurdistan Islamic Movement spokesman Shwan Qaladizayee MP told Asharq Al-Awsat: “My party’s participation in the forthcoming government formation is important, and cannot be underestimated or ignored,” adding that “our presence in government will be important to preserve governmental and ministerial balance, in addition to our role in decision-making and supporting all the services that the government will provide to the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.”

MP Abdullah Hajj Mahmoud, a member of the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, told Asharq Al-Awsat that a political party’s participation in the government formation process cannot be viewed solely in terms of the number of parliamentary seats won by the party. He added that the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party had sacrificed much for the sake of the region.