Iraq's Barzani resigns, leaving many questions in his wake

Iraq's Barzani resigns, leaving many questions in his wake
Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:25:13

An independence referendum held by Iraq’s Kurds last month was supposed to reinvigorate the long-held dream of an independent Kurdistan. Instead, it reversed — perhaps irrevocably — their aspirations for statehood.

Latimes--  It was a gamble on which 71-year-old Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader and one-time guerrilla fighter, had staked his political career.

On Sunday, weeks after it was clear that he had lost the bet, Barzani stepped down as president of the Kurdish semiautonomous region of Iraq, leaving the Kurds with no credible successor even as bickering parliamentary factions struggled to apportion his powers.

In his first public appearance since September’s referendum, Barzani addressed the region’s parliament, saying he “refuse[d] to continue” in his post as president after his term expires on Nov. 1, the date also set for the now-postponed presidential and legislative elections in the region.

He added that the presidential law of the region should not be amended nor should the term of the presidency be extended.

“You should therefore meet at your earliest convenience to ensure there is no legal vacuum in the execution of the duties and powers of the president of the region,” said Barzani in a letter he submitted to parliament before his address, according to a copy released online.

The move effectively suspends the presidency, a post that Barzani had held for 12 years (his second five-year term, which ended in 2015, was extended for two years), while calling for its powers to be distributed among the three branches of government.

Barzani insisted, however, that he would remain as a peshmerga, a reference to the Kurdish region’s fighting force, so as to “achieve the just rights” and “achievements of our nation.”

The televised speech marked a melancholic denouement for the Kurdish leader, weeks after he defied international and regional opposition to an independence poll held in Kurdish-majority provinces as well as in territories in dispute between Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region.

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