Two women vying for the Kurdistan Region’s parliament speaker have split the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in two directions with some officials saying the best solution is to resort to a secret ballot.
After an agreement reached between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and PUK last week, the parliament will convene on February 18 and new legislative leaders will be elected. The post of the speaker is to be held by the PUK.
The PUK is split roughly along two lines: the Talabani family and acting leader Kosrat Rasul. They are engaged in intense talks to agree on either Rewaz Fayaq or Begard Talabani. Both are women.
Farid Assasard, a PUK leadership member, said there are three criteria to be considered for the either to become the PUK's only candidate.
The first mechanism is holding talks among leadership, and then they will have to agree on a name within a few days.
"If talks did not bear a fruit, then it should be decided on through a vote," he added of the second mechanism.
The PUK senior member offered the example of solving the dilemma of the Iraqi presidency. They chose Barham Salih by a secret ballot to become the party's single candidate.
“The problem was solved and no body complained," he said.
The PUK may also opt not to choose.
"Both candidates [would] go to the parliament and MPs vote for them," he said. "We do not want to think of presenting the two names to the parliament in order for the MPs to vote on them."
Another PUK leadership member close to Kosrat Rasul says the Talabani family is campaigning for Begard Talabani — all the while keeping incumbent deputy PM Qubad Talabani away from intra-party rivalries because he should assume the deputy premier post without any competitor.
"They will already receive their share with the nomination of Qubad Talabani. And there are just two sovereign posts [the PUK] will receive including deputy prime minister and the parliament speaker," said the PUK leader on condition of anonymity.
The source claimed ministerial posts are not as prestigious.
The leader added: "Kosrat Rasul, Barham Salih, Lahur Talabany and Rafaat Abdulla are supporting Rewaz Fayaq for the speaker of the parliament."
By the source’s count of 50 members of the leadership council, 28 of them support Fayaq.
Another PUK leadership member revealed that Kosrat Rasul had met a few days ago with KDP President Masoud Barzani and discussed with him the situation.
"Mr. Kosrat had asked Barzani to support Rewaz Fayaq, but Barzani had replied that as the KDP they do not support either side. He said they just support the person the PUK chooses for the post of the parliament," the leadership member added.
Fayaq is 42 and from Kalar, Sulaimani province. She holds a PhD in investment laws and civil expertise. Before becoming an MP, she was a lecturer at Sulaimani Polytechnic University.
Begard, 41 is from Kalkan village and also from Sulaimani. She was a former MP and was later promoted to the position of secretary of the parliament. She holds a bachelor of arts in biology.
They are both incumbents.
The parliament allocates 33 of its 111 seats (including 11 ethno-religious quota members) for women.
Reporting by Nawzad Mahmoud