Barzani to stay in office for two more years

Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:38PM
Dale McEwan, Press TV, Arbil

The president of Iraq’s Autonomous Kurdistan Region has finally announced his position on a controversial law. Massoud Barzani has ended weeks of speculations by accepting a parliamentary decision that extends his presidency for two more years. Opposition lawmakers, however, call the move illegal.

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Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani has announced that he did not sign a controversial law that extends his term by two years.

However, as the president did not reject it within the fifteen-day deadline, parliamentary rules mean the law is automatically enforced and Barzani gets two extra years. Barzani’s second term officially finishes at the end of this month.

President Barzani claims that he is respecting the will of parliament, which is elected by the people. But Barzani’s party and its partner ruling Patriotic Union rammed the law through parliament despite opposition protests. Barzani says he will continue his office until the new parliament reaches a political consensus on Kurdistan's draft constitution. A new parliament will be elected on September 21st. It’s unclear exactly how long that will take to reach agreements on the constitution which has been debated for years.

Brzo Majeed from the opposition Change Movement says Barzani’s decision is illegal and Kurdistan’s elections schedule orders presidential elections to be held this year.

Opposition MPs say this is not the end of the dispute about the president’s term. The opposition parties are now considering what action to take.

September’s presidential elections are cancelled and a question mark now hangs over the election of future presidents. Barzani’s party wants to keep the presidential system and let the public elect the president. But opposition MPs want a parliamentary system - reducing the president’s powers - and let parliament elect the president.