Iraqi Parliament Elects Kurdish Politician Barham Saleh as President

The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday elected moderate Kurdish Barham Salih as president (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, UPK), who led the government of Iraqi Kurdistan between 2009 and 2012 as the country’s prime minister.

About five months after the election in Iraq, the Kurdish politician Barham Salih has been elected after several attempts to the new head of state of the country. The parliamentarians in Baghdad voted for him with 219 out of 329 votes.

The presidency in Iraq traditionally belongs to a Kurd. Unlike before, the two major Kurdish forces, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), could not initially agree on a candidate. Behind this is a bitter struggle over the distribution of power in the country.

At his inaugural speech Salih emphasized that he wanted to be the president of all Iraqis, not just one particular group. His opponent Fuad Hussein of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) won 22 votes after the party had previously announced his intention to withdraw.

The president in Iraq has little political influence and above all has representative tasks. However, a new government can only be formed with the election of a president. Not even two hours after his election, Iraq’s newly-elected president asked the Shiite Adil Abdul-Mahdi to form a government. As a designated Prime Minister, he has 30 days according to the Constitution.

The current Cabinet of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is only executive in office. The Iraqis had elected a new parliament on 12 May. In June, a recount had been ordered on suspicion of electoral fraud, delaying the process. , Parliament did not meet until the beginning of September.

Former Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barham Salih was elected President of the country on Tuesday. Parliament had to vote twice to make a decision. Barham Saleh has already been sworn.

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