Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Women want greater participation in new KRG cabinet

ERBIL – Women activists say women participation in the government positions should be equal to their participation in the parliament of Kurdistan Region – 25 percent – as the region prepares for a cabinet reshuffle as part of a political deal between the two main ruling parties.

The current Prime Minister of Kurdistan  Regional Government (KRG) from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) submitted a letter of resignation to the President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani earlier this week and was approved by the President.

Nechirvan Barzani, a former KRG PM and nephew of the regional President from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has been officially put forward by the KDP to head the new government and name his cabinet. Barzani, however, has not been officially charged by the President with forming the new cabinet.

The two parties have a "strategic Agreement" under which the two parties entered elections over the past 10 years and shared positions 50-50. The agreement also states that each party heads the government for two years during each electoral term.

Vian Sleman, secretary of Kurdistan Women's Union (KWU) told AKnews that "Women activists deem it the women's rights that in the next cabinet a number of the senior positions be give to women. And a formal request has been sent to Nechirvan Barzani for the purpose as well"

The women activists have called on Barzani to guarantee a 25% quota for women in his cabinet that is expected to be formed soon.

"Women are as educated as men and can manage the positions. We want not only some ministerial portfolios for women, but also other positions like undersecretaries, director generals, deputy ministers and governors also be given to women candidates" said Sleman.

In the outgoing KRG cabinet there is only one woman minister; the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Asos Najib Abdullah, in a 19-ministry cabinet.

Runak Faraj, a woman activist told AKnews that "we have to make efforts to bring this number to two at least women ministers"

She said women had to be part of the decision-making in the semi-autonomous region, therefore "it is not enough to secure 25% of the positions for women, but also think of whom to place in those positions."

According to Faraj, the women candidates have to be chosen based on their qualifications, "women who think like women and can give women a better image so that they can obtain the trust of the society"

The call for the 25% share was also sported by the High Council of Women's Affairs (HCWA) in the region.

Pakhsahn Zangana, Secretary of the HCWA  said: "It is true that there are women in the government institutions, but they are not seen as decision-makers and prominent figures in the political arena and leadership"

By Rebin Zangana


Armed groups backed by Diyala official captured

Three armed groups involved in organized crime and financed by a local official have been disbanded, Diyala police announced today.

The 36 captured men, who police say were financed by the Diyala Governor's Deputy for Arts Affairs, Ghadhban al-Khazraji, were responsible for several armed attacks and assassinations.

The video-taped confessions were shown during a police conference today, in which the militants admitted to belonging to armed groups such as Ansar al-Sunnah and the Rijal al-Naqshbandiyah and receiving payments from the official for assassinations since 2006.

The groups used silenced guns to assassinate members of the Dawa Party led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Shiite groups of the Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq and the Badir Organization.

Khazraji is a member of the Accord and Reform Front, which is part of the Iraqiya List.

He was arrested on terror charges on Jan. 20 by a special force working under the command of the prime minister.

Date for controversial national conference to be set on Sunday

ERBIL – Political leaders in Iraq are expected to finally set a date this Sunday for a much-debated and anticipated national conference that is hoped to put an end to political dispute in the country.

malikiSpokesman for the Kurdish Blocs Coalition (KBC) in the Iraqi Council of Representatives Farhad Atroushi said the political parties in the country will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide on the date of the conference.

The meeting is expected to include 15 representatives from the major political blocs: seven from the National Coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, five from the al-Iraqiya List led by rival leader Ayad Allawi, and three Kurds.

Iyad Allawi, ayad alawiThe conference was originally the idea of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, where all political parties negotiate to find solutions for the issues facing Iraq following the withdrawal of US forces in Iraq in December last year.

Relations between the National Coalition and the al-Iraqiya blocs - two major blocs who have 180 seats together in the 330-seat parliament - deteriorated after attempts by the Shiite-dominated authorities in Baghdad to arrest Sunni leaders on terror charges.

According to observers, the attempts were used by the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a pressure card, especially after Sunni leaders in Diyla and Salahadin provinces announced plans for creating federal autonomous regions in their provinces and accusing Baghdad of repression against the Sunnis.

Jalal TalabaniThe news follows the return of Talabani on December 28 following surgery in Germany. He returned directly to Baghdad because the long-heralded conference "depends on his leadership", said senior Patriotic Union of Kurdistan member Fuad Masum.

The KBC previously stated that it feared the conference may fail or not even go ahead in light of the intensifying war of words between the State of Law Coalition and Iraqiya List.

Moqtada al-Sadr,Muqtada al-SadrMeanwhile the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr rejected any idea of holding the conference outside of Baghdad, noting that the KBC agreed on holding the conference in the capital. An official source in the presidency office of the Kurdistan Region previously said President Massoud Barzani will not participate in the conference if it is held in Baghdad.

Massoud BarzaniThe debate over where to hold the conference arose after the leader of Iraqiya List Ayad Allawi preferred to hold it in Kurdistan. Barzani later announced that he will not boycott the conference if it is held in Baghdad, but stated he will send his representative in his stead.

The Sadrist movement's Ahrar bloc then launched a fresh effort at mediating between the State of Law Coalition and Iraqiya List in the run up to the conference.

Victims of Turkish airstrike commemorated in Erbil

ERBIL – Victims of a Turkish airstrike exactly 40 days ago in Sirnak province, south east of Turkey, in which 36 civilian Kurds were killed, were commemorated in a ceremony in Erbil city, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkish authorities announced that the Kurdish civilians who were working as smugglers were mistake for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels who have been fighting the Turkish states for three decades for the rights of the Kurdish minority in the country. Turkish authorities later offered apologies.

The event on Tuesday was organized by a number of NGOs but was also attended by representatives of the political parties in the region as well. Participants lit 40 candles in commemoration of the death of the 36 Kurds 40 days after their death.

Bilind Mustfa, speaker of the ceremony said "our goal in this commemoration is to reiterate our concern about the Sirnak tragedy, as well as our support for the just cause of the Kurdish nation in Turkey"

Falakadin Kkayi attended the ceremony as special representative of the President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani.

"IT is over 30 years that there is war between the Kurds and Turks in northern Kurdistan [Turkey's Kurdish region], and the continuation of war will inevitably result in tragedies like that of Sirnak. Therefore, the best solution is an end to this fighting and the Kurdish question in Turkey be solved through dialogue and democratic solutions" Kakayi read Barzani's speech.

"We hope that instead of fighting, a different circumstance come forward that will bring reconstruction and development in the Kurdish question in Turkey, in addition to building peace and democracy on the basis of human rights and Kurdish rights"