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Political Uncertainty Hangs Over Kurdistan As Barzani's Term Ends


Political uncertainty hung over Iraq's Kurdistan region after President Massoud Barzani's mandate expired without rival factions agreeing to extend his term.

Weeks of wrangling between the autonomous region's parties failed to produce a compromise before Barzani's tenure officially ended at midnight August 19, despite a last-minute intervention by U.S. and British diplomats.

The stalemate over the presidency, which Barzani has held for more than a decade, is testing Kurdish unity at a time of acute economic hardship and a debilitating war with the Islamic State.

No party presented an alternative candidate for the position, but several factions nonetheless refused to prolong Barzani's mandate unless changes were made to the political system that would reduce the powers of his office.

Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, which is the largest in the region, has so far rejected that.

Now that the deadline has passed, members of the Gorran party, which has pushed for the system to be changed, say that by law the speaker of parliament should assume presidential powers for the next 60 days until elections are held.

Meetings between the parties are due to continue in the coming days.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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