By: NRT English, 20.5.2023
Despite persistent efforts at persuasion from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Komal, a key opposition party in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, remains steadfast in its decision to step down, a party representative confirmed on Saturday.
The Regional Parliament convened on Wednesday to discuss the resignation of seven Komal members, which formed a significant part of the agenda. However, the PUK, the Parliament’s second-largest faction, requested a postponement, leading to the conclusion of the session before a vote could be held.
NRT English spoke to Omar Gulpi, one of the seven outgoing Komal members, who reiterated their party’s commitment to departing, regardless of whether an official vote on their resignation is concluded.
“The Parliament is set to reconvene on Monday, and our MPs’ resignation will be on the table,” Gulpi stated. “Whether or not a vote takes place, we’re adamant about resigning. Our belief is that remaining in a Parliament that has prolonged its tenure is not only unfair to the Kurdish people, but also unlawful.”
In October 2022, the Regional Parliament extended its term by a year, a move that was boycotted by several opposition parties, including Komal.
“We chose to boycott Parliament when the extension was announced, and now we’ve taken a further step to tender our resignation,” Gulpi clarified, disavowing any influence from the PUK or other parties in their decision.
Parliamentary bylaws allow any member to resign by submitting their resignation to the Speaker, who is then expected to table the resignation in the upcoming meeting. The resignation must be voted on within 30 days of the request.
Should a member resign, the vacated seat is typically filled by a representative from the same party. However, in Komal’s case, they seek a complete exit from a Parliament they deem “expired”.
Gulpi declared, “Our concern isn’t about who will take over the seats, but that the Parliament’s tenure is over, and we won’t appoint replacements.”
Although Komal had previously boycotted Parliament following the term extension, their formal resignation came somewhat late. Gulpi defended this timing by claiming, “We’ve done more than New Generation,” another movement which also boycotted Parliament post-extension. New Generation MPs resigned their seats last year.
Inquiries by NRT English to the Speaker and her deputy about filling the vacant seats went unanswered.
There remains ambiguity over whether Komal’s seats will stay vacant for the remainder of the extended term, or whether they will be allocated among the parties with a majority presence, namely KDP, PUK, and Gorran.
As the Parliament’s extended term is more than halfway over, the Region is preparing for the November 18 elections. However, a host of unresolved issues persist.
Key officials from the Region’s two primary ruling parties have held frequent discussions over recent months, aiming to reconcile their disagreements concerning the electoral process, primarily the distribution of minority quota seats.
The PUK, along with several smaller political groups, insist on a multi-constituency system to distribute the 11 existing minority seats across various provinces.
The KDP, meanwhile, champions a single constituency system, which has historically strengthened their influence over minority seats due to most coming from their strongholds in Erbil and Duhok.
Saadi Ahmed Pira, a member of PUK’s leadership committee, asserted on Saturday that the sole remaining hurdle to the electoral process is an agreement between the PUK and the KDP. However, this claim has been contradicted by the High Electoral Commission, which estimates that electoral preparations would require a minimum of six months, leaving the KDP and PUK with a narrow window to ensure timely elections.