Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani reiterated his intention to retire from his post as president of the Republic of Iraq when his term in office ends late this year, write his memoirs, and take some rest.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat in Baghdad yesterday, President Talabani said: “Yes, I want to retire from my post as president of the republic and take some rest to write my memoirs.”
In reply to a question whether he will insist on retiring if his party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK], some other political groups, or his people ask him to run for another term in office as president of Iraq, he said: “Yes. I am connected to my party, to our alliances with other political parties and groups, and to the Iraqi people. If they ask me to run and they indeed began to do so, I will reconsider my decision and think about the issue. Nevertheless, my personal decision is to retire.”
Asharq Al-Awsat has learned from a source close to President Talabani that the president has already written long parts of his memoirs and that he has been writing them over the past years. Asked in what language President Talabani writes his memoirs, the source said: “He writes part of them in Arabic and the other part in Kurdish.”
It is known that the Iraqi president has good command of the Arabic language and its grammar. He memorizes well the poems of Iraqi Poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri and other Iraqi and Arab poets.
The source said: “Since the late 1980s, President Talabani has expressed a desire to establish a publishing house and launch a free, liberal Arabic-language newspaper modeled on the French Le Monde Newspaper, hoping that it would become a credible international paper.”
For his part, Sadi Birah, a leading figure in the PUK who is close to President Talabani, said: “Various Islamic, national, and secular political groups and parties contacted and met with President Talabani to ask him to back down on his decision to retire as president of Iraq. These parties asked him to run for another presidential term for the sake of Iraq and the Iraqis.”
He added: “The political bureau of the PUK will ask its secretary general to run for another presidential term during the bureau’s meetings that will begin as of June the 1st.”
In a related development, President Talabani received in his office in Baghdad two days ago Leader of the Iraqi National Bloc [former Prime Minister] Iyad Allawi and Vice President of the Republic Tariq al-Hashimi.
A source close to the presidential office told Asharq Al-Awsat: “President Talabani met separately with Allawi and Al-Hashimi. Discussions during the meetings centered on persuading the Iraqi president to rescind his decision on retirement for the good of Iraq and the Iraqis. However, the Iraqi president did not promise to take any decision at present.”
People in Baghdad may be asking whether or not President Talabani will retire from his post as president of the republic, but a different kind of talk and argument is taking place in the City of Al-Sulaymaniyah, stronghold of the PUK where the party’s political bureau is based.
The question that is asked in Al-Sulaymaniyah is whether or not Nushirwan Mustafa, a former leading figure in the PUK, who once was described as the influential second man in the party, will run in the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Province on a list separate from that of the PUK. To date, Mustafa has not announced resignation from the party as a whole. He resigned only from his post as member of the PUK political bureau. He established a publishing house and a satellite television station and launched a daily newspaper with full financial support from the PUK.
President Talabani, who arrived in the Al-Sulaymaniyah City from Baghdad yesterday, showed no reservation about Mustafa’s candidacy in the province’s parliamentary elections on an independent list.
The presence of Kusrat Rasul [vice president of the Kurdistan Province] at the forefront of the officials who received PUK Secretary General Jalal Talabani and his warm embracing of Talabani completely dispelled rumors on his intention to resign from the party and on a lukewarm relationship between him and the PUK secretary general, his comrade in arms in the Kurdish revolution.
Commenting on Mustafa’s candidacy in the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Province, President Talabani said: “He is practicing his democratic right. As an Iraqi citizen, he has the right to run in the elections.”
Meanwhile, a leading figure in the PUK said: “We are satisfied with what is going on and know what we are doing.”
He added: “When the media campaign begins, we will show the people our dossiers and the dossiers of Mustafa, so that the voters may learn the facts.”