2019-02-16 20:17:00

Without an official agreement on Kirkuk, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) will not strike a deal on paper with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), PUK officials said Saturday. The comments came as the Change Movement (Gorran) and the KDP reached an agreement.

Headed by Kosrat Rasul Ali, the party’s most senior official, the PUK Leadership Council met in Sulaimani on Saturday to discuss Friday’s meeting between the politburos of the Region’s two biggest parties, the PUK and the KDP.

Their meeting came ahead of a parliamentary session scheduled for Monday, February 18. 

However, following the Leadership Council meeting on Saturday, a PUK official said: “The three questions – the parliament session, Kirkuk, and Baghdad – must be worked on together, not preparations made for just one of them.” 

The official’s comments come despite a statement from KDP spokesman Mahmood Mohammed following Friday’s meeting, which stressed that issues related to the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Kirkuk’s governorship, and the presidency had been resolved.

On February 5, after months of wrangling, the KDP and PUK appeared to have finally reached an agreement to hold a parliament session and the Kirkuk Provincial Council meeting simultaneously on February 18.

However, Ala Talabani, an MP in the Iraqi parliament and a member of the PUK Leadership Council, told the party’s media the Kirkuk question has not been settled.

“We have emphasized that without a final say on Kirkuk, we will not sign any agreements,” Talabani said.

The importance of the oil-rich disputed province to solving the KDP-PUK impasse was summed up by senior PUK official Bafel Talabani on the sidelines of talks when he said: “Reaching an agreement is very easy: Kirkuk, Kirkuk, and Kirkuk.”

Discussing Friday’s meeting on Saturday, the PUK said it is committed to “the basis of February 5’s political agreement which was ratified between the KDP and PUK politburos, which detailed the meetings of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, the election of a governor and the normalization of the province as well as the Kurdistan Parliament’s session.”

The PUK added it is “ready for a comprehensive political agreement on the questions of Kurdistan, Kirkuk and Iraq as one single package.”

“Any steps made forward without an agreement between the political parties, particularly between the KDP and PUK, will not serve the interests of our nation and the political process.”

Recent developments on the ground require “unity and unanimity” to stand against threats to the Kurdistan Region.

The Kurdistan Region held parliamentary elections on September 30, 2018. The winning parties are yet to form a government. 

Saturday also saw an agreement between the KDP and the Change Movement (Gorran) following a marathon meeting lasting five hours. 

“The Change Movement-KDP political agreement was endorsed – Gorran and the KDP will take part in the February 18 [parliamentary] meeting; both sides reached the final phase of the mechanism of forming the government and there was good progress to meet that end; the agreement project will be taken to the leadership of both sides to approve it,” according to a joint statement published late Saturday. 

Gorran negotiator Ali Hama Salih described the meeting as “exhausting” but said his party’s demands were “approved”. 

No further details were offered on the content of the agreement.

“The Change Movement and KDP agreed on what the government mechanism should look like,” Rozh Nuri Shaways, a KDP negotiator, told reporters.