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Kurdistan: PUK rallies support as elections approach - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A picture taken on September 12, 2013 shows an Iraqi Kurdish man walking past electoral campaign posters of candidates running in the Kurdistan parliament election, in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. (AFP)

A picture taken on September 12, 2013 shows an Iraqi Kurdish man walking past electoral campaign posters of candidates running in the Kurdistan parliament election, in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. (AFP)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has sought to rally support as the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) elections enter its final week. The PUK named the final week of election campaigning the “week of loyalty to Mam Jalal [Talabani]”, with rumors about the president’s health continuing to rage in light of his continued absence from public view.

The PUK sought to shore up its base in the final week of election campaigning with deputy secretary-general, Barham Salih, appearing at a rally in the border town of Raniyah accompanied by Talabani’s wife Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed. Qubad Talabani, son of the Iraqi president, also strongly participated in the campaigning.

Salih, speaking at an election rally, said: “The forthcoming elections will be crucial, not only for the PUK, but for all Kurdish parties, and for Kurdistan as a whole.”

“The elections will outline the features of the new political map in Kurdistan, and they are very important elections which will instill the foundations of democracy and freedom,” he added.

Making reference to the fact that the PUK has chosen to participate in the forthcoming elections without its traditional ally, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Salih said: “The PUK has bowed to the wishes of its supporters by deciding to run under an independent list, and everyone should participate in the elections to make them a tool for change and renewal and allow the people to freely express their will.”

“We hope the elections will be totally free from any voter fraud in order to put forward a true picture of democracy in Kurdistan to the world.”

Salih added: “The PUK strongly believes in the principle of accepting others and the principle of political pluralism, and therefore, will work on making the elections a success. The PUK also looks forward to forming a government based on all colors that truly represents the Kurdish people…a government which would carry out comprehensive political.”

Salih urged the people of Kurdistan to go to the ballot boxes on Saturday. “Broad participation will give more legitimacy to the next government, and everyone must assume their responsibilities in this regard. Elections are a tool for change and renewal, and their success will not only be a victory for the Kurdistan region, but also for Diyarbakir, Mahabad and Qamishli [Kurdish cities in Turkey, Iran, and Syria] and all parts of Kurdistan,” he said.

Qubad Talabani, son of President Jalal Talabani, also participated in the election campaign. He visited the area of Shawrash in the Sulamaniyah Province and participated in a public event held by the PUK.

In a speech to the crowd, he said: “What I see today in this popular enthusiasm is a sign of loyalty to President Jalal, and this enthusiasm has urged me to say that I am optimistic about the results of the elections. However, I assure all that this revolutionary enthusiasm must be translated into votes, because, if we do not win the majority of votes, we will not be able to participate in the next government with the weight we need to stop others saying we are subordinates of one party or another. It is imperative that our supporters go to the ballot boxes to ensure the highest number of seats in the parliament which represent our sacrifices, and to stop others describing us as subordinates.”