Skip to content


Personal tools
You are here: Home » News » Iraq parliament names first Kurdish president in history

Iraq parliament names first Kurdish president in history

Document Actions
Iraq’s parliament on Wednesday chose former Kurdish rebel fighter Jalal Talabani as the first freely elected president in its history, paving the way for the creation of a new government next week...... "We are happy that the first elected president of Iraq is coming from a community that has been persecuted for years," Shiite MP Hussein Shahrastani said.



06/04/2005   AFP

BAGHDAD, April 6 


The choice of Talabani by the 275-seat assembly is a major political victory for long-suffering Kurdish minority in Iraq, which was violently oppressed under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Shiite Islamist Adel Abdel Mahdi and outgoing Sunni president Ghazi al-Yawar were named as his two deputies after weeks of political wrangling following the landmark January 30 elections.

Iraqi MPs predicted that a government should now be in place by next week, with Shiite politician Ibrahim al-Jafaari expected to be named prime minister by the newly appointed three-man presidency council.

Saddam and 11 of his top aides were to watch the parliamentary proceedings from their jail cells on a fortified American base in Baghdad, Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin told AFP.

"There will be a place in jail for Saddam and the 11 to watch the TV to understand their time is finished, there is a new Iraq and that they are no longer ruling the country; so they can understand that in the new Iraq, people are elected and they are not coming to power by a coup d’etat."

MPs, dressed in tribal robes, business suits and Muslim cleric’s black robes, walked to the front of their assembly inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone to cast their votes before the ballots were counted publicly.

The vote was a formality after the powerful parliament Shiite and Kurdish blocs formalised the line-up with Sunni parties Tuesday after weeks of wrangling.

Shiite and Kurdish lists finally picked Yawar for vice president late Tuesday, filling a post reserved for Iraq’s fractured Sunni community.

"We are happy that the first elected president of Iraq is coming from a community that has been persecuted for years," Shiite MP Hussein Shahrastani said.


The presidency council submits the names of prime minister and his cabinet to the parliament for confirmation by a majority vote. It also has veto powers over legislative bills.

Kurdish MP and outgoing foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said his Kurdistan Alliance and the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance which dominated the elections, had gone out of their way to reach out to the embittered Sunnis who largely boycotted the election and are seen as fueling the country’s deadly insurgency.

"Our common approach has been to include them. Irrespective of their passive attitude, they have been given significant positions," Zebari said.

Sunni Hajem al-Hassani was elected parliament speaker on Sunday and the community that controlled the levers of power in Saddam’s regime and all previous Iraqi governments is also to get four to six cabinet posts.

Hassani was drafted as a last-minute choice amid fierce disagreement among Shiites and Sunnis over who should serve as parliament speaker.

A rocky second parliament session on March 29 ended in disarray over the failure to choose a speaker as old communal passions bubbled to the surface.

Shiites accused some Sunni MPs of Baathist ties, while the Sunni minority bristled at being lectured to by the Shiites and Kurds.

Complicating matters is the fact the Sunnis have been mired by in-fighting and unable to form a cohesive voice in the post-Saddam era.

The second parliament session also served as a reminder that the failure by the Shiites and Kurds to form a government risked costing the new democratic Iraq its legitimacy after millions risked their lives to vote.

For two months, the Shiites and Kurds had haggled over cabinet posts and argued over future policy decisions like federalism and the status of the ethnically-divided northern oil city of Kirkuk.

Much of the blame for the logjam was placed on the Kurds, who with 77 seats in the new parliament were in the position of kingmakers and sought maximum concessions from their Shiite partners.

The presidency council requires a two-thirds majority vote from the parliament and the UIA, with 146 seats, needed the Kurdish bloc to elect the presidency council.

With the presidency out of the way, the rest should hopefully fall into place.

Zebari said an agreement on the new cabinet to be headed by Jafaari was also largely complete and that it would be approved "within a few days."

One outstanding dispute is leadership of the oil ministry, which the Shiites and Kurds have tussled over. But even that is expected to be surmounted.

The main task for the new parliament and the next government will be to oversee the drafting of permanent constitution and to pave the way for a second round of elections by December.

However, the new parliament speaker Hassani warned drafting the constitution could very well be postponed for six months due to the snail-like pace of negotiating demonstrated so far.

Created by keza
Last modified 2005-04-24 06:04 AM

Powered by Plone

This site conforms to the following standards: