Parliament changes speaker.
By Ako Muhammed--Erbil
Governing parties reverse posts, PUK's Bayiz leads Parliament; KDP's Barzani leads government
Parliament assigned a prime minister and deputy prime minister to form a government after the Kurdistan Region President approved the resignation of the current outgoing Council of Ministers, fulfilling the post rotation between the two ruling parties in the Region.
During an extraordinary session on Feb. 16, Parliament unanimously voted for Nechirvan Barzani as prime minister and Imad Ahmed as deputy prime minister. Opposition parties boycotted the session.
Governing parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, switch key posts in Parliament and in the government based on a power-sharing agreement.
PUK's Barham Salih led the government until his resignation was approved by President Massoud Barzani on Feb. 2; KDP's Nechirvan Barzani will take over as prime minister and will form a new cabinet to serve until the elections in mid-2013. The post of deputy prime minister changed from KDP's Azad Barwari to PUK's Ahmed.
Barzani and Ahmed still have to be officially appointed by the Region's president, after which they have 30 days to form a new cabinet. They will take office after Parliament grants immunity to the new cabinet.
Forming the cabinet will take less than the 30-day period stipulated by law, announced Mohammad Qaradaghi, secretary of the Council of Ministers' office.
A day earlier, Parliament held another session to elect the new parliamentary presidency council, which is also part of the power-sharing deal. Parliament appointed former Deputy Speaker Arsalan Bayiz, from PUK, as new speaker after former Speaker Kamal Kirkuki, KDP, resigned from his post and withdrew from Parliament. MP Hassan Mohammad Soor, KDP, was appointed as deputy speaker.
Meanwhile, President Barzani approved PUK's nominee, Kosrat Rasul Ali, as Kurdistan Region vice president. This post had remained vacant since the July 2009 elections. Ali, who is the second person in the PUK leadership after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, has held the post of Kurdistan vice president in the past. Ali will attend a swearing-in session in Parliament.
Immediately after his appointment, Speaker Bayiz addressed Parliament with a statement in which he referred to his aim of activating the role of Parliament.
"The new presidency of the Parliament will attempt to create more balance among the [Parliament's] different blocs and will listen to everyone," he said, noting that this balance will be achieved when committee meetings are more active. The speaker and his deputy will attend the committee meetings, aiming to bring together different viewpoints on bills.
He also promised to push forward bills that were suspended, such as a bill for amending Parliament's internal system.
The new speaker also announced his intention to reform Parliament's media department. Programs will be arranged for Parliament's TV channel to help create a bridge between Parliament and the people, he said. He said the channel must broadcast committee meetings, published bills and sessions.
The opposition parties, Gorran Movement, Kurdistan Islamic Union and Islamic Group in Kurdistan, boycotted both sessions, protesting the post changes.
Omer Abdul-Aziz, head of the KIU bloc in Parliament, dismissed the importance the post rotations and described them as mere political changes. The opposition parties are not concerned about these issues, he told reporters in a joint press conference with head of Gorran bloc, Kardo Mohammad, after the Parliamentary session on Feb. 15.
"Swapping the presidencies of Parliament and government came as a result of the two governing parties. But this is not the Parliament's demand and it is not because of solving suspended problems," Muhammad explained the opposition parties' stance.
However, head of the governing Kurdistani bloc, Sozan Shihab criticized the opposition boycott and described as a "political maneuver." A boycott must be for a certain reason, she told Erbil-based Kurdistan news agency, AKnews. They could have stayed during the sessions and vote no, said Shihab adding, "as far as they are the people's representative, they should have been present not just leave the session."
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