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Physician Reveals Talabani’s Health Improving | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this 2007 file photo, Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani talks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban, File)

FILE - In this 2007 file photo, Iraq's President Jalal Talabani talks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban, File)

FILE – In this 2007 file photo, Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani talks to reporters in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban, File)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Dr. Najmaldin Karim, a neurologist and head of the medical team that oversaw the domestic treatment of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani until he was transferred to a German hospital, confirmed that the Iraqi president’s health is “constantly improving. He has begun moving and talking with those around him, and is responding to questions directed to him.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Kirkuk yesterday, Karim added that President Talabani “left the intensive care unit two weeks ago and he is now undergoing exercises to improve his walking.” He added, “His health is progressing better than we expected.” Karim, who is also a leading figure in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Talabani, went on to say, “Talk about the president returning to Iraq is too early; his treatment is still continuing. However, according to the views and reports of the doctors in the German hospital, the president will recover, God willing.”

On the subject of the presidential post and whether President Talabani will return to his duties after treatment, Karim said, “This is not important to us right now. What matters to us is Jalal’s safe return to his country, his family, his people and his party.” He expressed his belief that “the office of the president will remain intact because the president is still alive. Talabani is president of the republic until the end of the current legislative session, of which there is much time left. Nevertheless he is in his second term as president and he will not run for a third.”

With regards to the situation within the PUK and Talabani’s leadership of the party, Karim stressed, “The situation within the party is fine. Jalal Talabani united us when he was in Iraq and now that he is in Germany for treatment we are more united in his absence. We will continue to work under his guidance and discourse.” He pointed out that Kosrat Rasul Ali, the PUK deputy secretary general, “is presiding over all meetings of the party’s political bureau, and all bureau members are attending.”

For his part, another senior leader in the PUK party denied that “the party, the Iraqi parliament or the government is thinking about nominating a replacement for President Talabani”, stressing that “no Iraqi entity has addressed this topic.”

The senior leader, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview from Erbil. He said, “Jalal Talabani is president of Iraq in accordance with the Iraqi constitution. All these rumors about names being nominated for the presidential post or for the PUK secretariat are nonsense. They are devoid of any sense of decency or taste. Jalal Talabani is still alive and, God willing, he will safely return to Iraq.”

Finally, the Iraqi legal expert Tareq Harb explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that Talabani, in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, is still president of the republic, adding that “the Iraqi constitution states: A president of the republic is chosen during or after thirty days of the position being vacant. As for the present case, the president has not vacated his position; he is still in office but is currently on sick leave like any other employee of the state.” Harb added that “unless medical reports confirm that a president is unfit to perform his duties, and here I am not referring to Talabani specifically, I mean in general, then the position remains as it is. Hence Jalal Talabani is still president of Iraq.”