by HEVIDAR AHMED yesterday at 04:16

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. Photo: Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, is expected to accept a controversial ruling by the autonomous region’s parliament to extend his presidency by two years and is likely to announce his decision this week, a senior leader of his coalition said.

“He has agreed not to reject parliament’s decision,” said the source, a senior leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which together with Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is a ruling partner in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that Barzani had confessed in a meeting that accepting the controversial extension “isn’t going to be easy for him.”

On June 30, based on a top-level agreement between the two parties, the Kurdish parliament decided in a majority vote to extend Barzani’s presidency until 2015.

Tariq Jawhar, an advisor to Kurdistan’s parliament speaker, said the law stipulates that the president has to read and decide on parliamentary decisions within 15 days. He added that the countdown began when parliament sent the decision to the presidency on July 2, three days after it was passed.

PUK and KDP leaders argue that extending Barzani’s presidency was important at this stage, when there is no consensus among political parties about the constitution and the mechanism of the next general elections.

The majority of MPs and some PUK and KDP leaders believe that if Barzani fails to make an announcement by the 15-day deadline, the parliamentary decree will come into effect and be considered final.

But opposition parties, which had immediately declared parliament’s move “illegal and undemocratic,” still hope that Barzani will reject the decision and return it to legislature.

“We hope that Massoud Barzani, who is one of our national figures, does not place himself in this political dispute,” Hiwa Mirza, a senior member of the Islamic Union, told Rudaw.

He added that three opposition groups, the Islamic Union, the Islamic League (Komal) and the Change Movement (Gorran) are expected to meet and decide on their next course of action in case Barzani does accept the extension.