- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

IRBIL, Iraq — Kurdish leaders laid out stiff demands yesterday during talks with Shi’ite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari aimed at forming a government from among the winners of Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections.

Officials said the demands included the post of president for one of their leaders, Massoud Barzani, at least two other top Cabinet posts and written assurances that they will retain effective veto power over changes in a permanent constitution.

Another Kurdish leader in the running for president is Jalal Talabani, head of another Kurdish group.

Mr. al-Jaafari and Mr. Barzani met for several hours in the Kurdistan mountain retreat of Salahuddin. Between them, their parties control 215 of the 275 seats in the new National Assembly — well more than the two-thirds needed to be assured of dictating the Cabinet selection process.

Any failure in the talks could create an opening for Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who has announced an attempt to form a coalition that would allow him to keep his job. Mr. al-Jaafari has been nominated for that post by the mainly Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance, which will hold 140 seats in the assembly.

“We decided to continue the negotiations and create an Iraqi government of national unity, in which Arab Sunnis should play a role,” Mr. Barzani said after the talks.

Mr. al-Jaafari, who was to meet today with the other main Kurdish leader, Mr. Talabani, said there had been “a sharing of our points of view and we have decided to continue the discussions.”

Senior Kurdish official Mohammed Ihsan reiterated a list of Kurdish demands, including the post of president or prime minister and two of the main ministry portfolios such as defense, foreign relations, finance and oil.

Mr. Ihsan, who serves as the Kurdish party’s human rights minister, said the Kurds also will demand that the multiethnic and oil-rich city of Kirkuk be included in the Kurdistan region as part of any deal on a future Iraqi federation.

In Baghdad, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said that before joining any coalition, the Kurds would require “specific written pledges” that the next government will follow to the letter the interim constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).

Mr. al-Jaafari had said that he wanted to repeal a provision in the TAL allowing a two-thirds majority in any three provinces to veto amendments to the permanent constitution, which is to be drafted by the incoming assembly and put to a referendum in October.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide