London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Talks to form a new Iraqi government have been postponed until after the Adha holiday “because a number of politicians taking part in the talks are currently performing Hajj [pilgrimage]”, according to Fuad Masum, a leading member of Iraqi President Jalal Talbani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, who participated in the ongoing discussions between the Kurdish Alliance List and other Iraqi political parties.
Talbani had received Iyad Allawi, former Iraqi premier, on Friday, at his office in Baghdad . A source close to the president told Asharq al Awsat the “meeting was part of the exerted effort by the president as the sponsor of the political process to reach a national unity government, in which all Iraqi groups from across the political spectrum will participate, and to resolve problems by national consensus.”
For his part, the head of the National Iraqi List underlined the president’s proposals as “the right solution for political stability in the country” and pointed out the talks focused on general principles and not details concerning the formation of a new government.
Masum hinted, in a statement to Asharq al Awsat, from his offices in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan, that the “Kurdish leadership is exerting its efforts to include Allawi’s list in the next government” and expressed his opinion that the former premier “might refuse to participate in person but members of his list” could take part.
The meetings held in Iraqi Kurdistan, whether in al Sulaymaniyah or in Irbil, “were not official but bilateral talks to share the views of two of the largest blocs in the next Iraqi parliament, the Kurdish bloc and the Iraqi Coalition,” Masum told Asharq al Awsat, adding that, “Our brothers in the Iraqi political blocs did not come to Kurdistan on official visits but were welcomed by the Kurdish leadership.”
“It is well known that relations between the Kurdish leadership, represented by President Talbani and Masud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan region and head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, are strong, deep-rooted and historic. We have no sensitivity towards anyone. The Kurdish bloc will be influential in the next parliament, since it won 60 seats. Its will therefore have a say in the discussion to form the next government,” he said.
The Kurdish leader went on to say the “Coalition will nominate the next prime minister because it is the biggest bloc in parliament. We do have no objections to their nominations which will be discussed during official talks with all parties. The strongest candidates for this post are the outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari followed by Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi.” Masum also indicated that the Kurdish bloc intended to seek control of one of the two chief posts- the president and prime minister- should the Coalition not agree one a single candidate for the post of premier. It would also seek to control the foreign minister portfolio and other ministries.
Regarding Talbani’s objections to al Jaafari returning to the premiership, the Kurdish politician said, “I attended the bilateral meeting between President Talbani and Prime Minister al Jaafari which last a few hours. Talbani explained he had no objection against al Jaafari personally or the Coalition. His objection centered on his performance as Prime Minister. The issue is not a personal one.” “The Kurdish bloc does not object to any candidate nominated by the Coalition, whether it will be al Jaafari or Abdul Mahdi. The important thing for us is prior agreement on the government’s program followed by the implementation of decisions and the principle of agreement.”