Sunday, 30 January 2011

Middle East’s Protest Waves Lap at Iraqi Kurdistan

30/01/2011 09:56:00 By RUDAW
Supporters of the Kurdish opposition "Gorran" or "Change" movement celebrate in the streets after polls closed in the Iraqi parliamentary elections in March 2010, in Sulaimani.------ Photo/AP.
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan: Inspired by Egyptian demonstrators trying to overthrow their authoritarian government, the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s largest opposition party is calling on the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to step down.

Opposition party Gorran declared late Saturday evening that the government must abdicate, claiming it was corrupt and that it did not represent the will of the people.
“Honorable people of Kurdistan, as you all can see, the day of the demise of dictatorial and despotic regimes has come,” said a statement issued by Gorran (which means “Change” in Kurdish), the semiautonomous region’s main opposition party with 25 seats in its 111-seat parliament.
The statement, read out on Gorran’s official KNN television channel, called on “the cabinet, which is solely a KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party]-PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] government, to resign and a new transitional government to be formed.”
“This is the only solution for the reform of the region’s political system,” continued the statement, which asked for the support of other opposition parties, including the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG).
Gorran’s spokesman, Mohammed Tofiq Rahim, expressed Gorran’s intentions more clearly, saying the Kurdish people may start protesting against the Kurdish leadership if it did not make genuine reforms.
“Waves of protest are resonating across the world,” said Rahim on KNN. “If the KDP and PUK don’t reform, that could happen here as well.”
In quick response, several harsh statements were issued by the offices of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani and Prime Minister Barham Salih, and the two ruling parties’ political bureaus.
Barzani’s office described Gorran’s statement as an “anarchic” attempt to “derail all the achievements” gained by the relatively safe and prosperous Kurdish region in the last two decades of self-rule.
“We will not accept anyone destabilizing the region’s situation or destroying the lives of the people,” said the statement. “Any change in the region’s situation can only happen through elections and not through unconstitutional and illegal means.”
In their joint statement, the KDP and PUK accused Gorran of attempting to mount a coup against the government, calling it unacceptable.
“We will confront any coup d’état movement to our utmost ability, and will not allow it to destroy the stability and safety” of the Kurdistan region.
The prime minister’s statement promised further economic and political reform.
A demonstration is expected to take place on Monday in Sulaimani city to protest the shortage of electricity in Kurdistan.
Gorran said it was not behind the protest, and meanwhile the KRG has promised to supply Sulaimani province with 21 hours of power per day, starting February.

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