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Iraq's Kurdish Parties Unite Ahead Of Elections

IRBIL, Iraq -- Iraq's Kurdish parties have announced the creation of a new Kurdish political bloc ahead of the January general election, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reported.

The Kurdish alliance will gather 14 parties, including the two biggest parties -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdish regional government (KRG) President Masud Barzani.

Three Kurdish parties -- Jamaa Islamia, the Islamic Kurdish Union, and the Change (Goran) party -- have decided to stay out of the bloc and represent the opposition.

Officials from those three parties said they would provide independent lists for the elections, which are scheduled for January 18.

Kosrat Rasool Ali, a senior PUK member and a vice president of the KRG, said the 14 political parties have agreed to enter the election under the name Kurdish Coalition.

Fadhil Mirani, a secretary of the KDP office in Irbil, said that the new coalition unites different political views and ethnic groups "such as socialists, Islamic [ones], and also Turkomans." Mirani added that the decision for the three parties to remain outside the coalition is "respected."

He said Kurds need to be unified given the limitations on the KRG authorities in Iraq.

Sinkol Jabouk, a member of the Kurdish Coalition and a well-known Turkoman politician, said she hopes the new alliance will lead to the application of article 140 of the constitution about disputed areas between Baghdad and Irbil, including Kirkuk -- Iraq's northern oil hub -- that is an uneasy ethnic mix of Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomans, and will reflect on "the brotherhood [that exists] between different parties in Kirkuk."