Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—Following denials by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that it was responsible for the hold-up in the formation of the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), local media reported that a new Erbil government was taking shape and may be announced soon.
Quoting sources close to Kurdistan’s Prime Minister-designate Nechervan Barzani, the Kurdish Rudaw news website claimed that a number of senior ministerial portfolios had been assigned.
While Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) deputy leader Barzani would remain as prime minister, the post of deputy prime minister could go to Movement for Change, Goran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa. Goran was the big winner in September’s parliamentary elections, displacing the PUK as Kurdistan’s second party.
Rudaw reported that the post of Kurdistan parliamentary speaker would then go to the PUK, possibly to former speaker Arslan Bayiz, with the post of deputy speaker being going to a member of the KDP. The Kurdish news website claimed that a deal for the post of parliament secretary to go to the Kurdistan Islamic Union was also being discussed, while one ministerial post each would be given to the Kurdistan Islamic Group, the Turkmens and the Christians.
However Dilshad Shahab, a member of the KDP’s delegation to the government negotiations, told Asharq Al-Awsat that these plans did not represent the official position of the KDP. He said: “Negotiations are ongoing and no agreement has been reached by the participants on a formula for the appointment of government posts.”
He added: “The negotiations are difficult and time is running out. There has been much delay and the task [of forming a new government] must be achieved quickly. Therefore, we have taken the decision to restart negotiations with the other parties after the New Year holidays.”
For its part, the PUK, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has dismissed claims that it is responsible for delaying the formation of the new KRG. In an official statement released on Monday, the PUK said: “The PUK leadership had taken the decision to participate in the next government led by Nechervan Barzani, according to the alliance between the PUK and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and taking into consideration the weight and influence of the PUK.”
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat Shahab said that the delay in forming the government was normal, citing the huge political changes that had taken place in Kurdistan. “We used to share power equally with the PUK, but that is no longer possible,” he said.