Delegates of 47 political parties active in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan met in its capital Irbil on 22 September to meet before the upcoming referendum on the constitution draft, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported. Representatives of the two major Kurdish parties -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- along with minor Kurdish, Turkoman, Chaldean, and Assyrian parties attended the meeting. The parties agreed on their common support for a "Yes" vote. They also decided to set up a committee that will coordinate a "Yes" campaign. Mahmud Muhammad, member of the Central Committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told journalists that the campaign will start at the beginning of October. Following the meeting, RFI interviewed some of the participants.
RFI: It is known that the people of Kurdistan participated widely in the general elections in January 2005. Has this meeting indicated that the political parties in Kurdistan might be concerned about the turnout in the upcoming referendum?
Karkhi Najm al-Din Altiparmak, president of the Turkoman Democratic Movement: We are convinced that the people of Kurdistan will vote "Yes." Nevertheless, we should be prepared [for the referendum] and, as we were in the last elections of January 2005, united in our stance with the people of Kurdistan. We should speak with the same voice when we will say "Yes." Politicians, intellectuals, and ordinary people should stand united....
Ali Bapir from the Kurdistan Islamic Group: Most [of the participants] have expressed some objections and reservations on some parts of the constitution but they support an affirmative vote [in the referendum]. At this time, this is the best choice.
RFI: As an Islamic politician, to what extent have you found your ambitions fulfilled in the constitution?
Bapir:We do have some objections on the constitution, from legal, political, and also national standpoints. But seeing it as a whole, we do intend to vote for the constitution.
(Translated and compiled by Petr Kubalek.)