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Kurdish Alliance Gives Criteria For Forming A Coalition

The alliance of Kurdish parties lost seats in the latest election, but could play an important role in coalition-building.
BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi Kurdish official says that upholding pluralism, democracy, and the constitution must be the main criteria for any postelection government coalition that wants to have the Kurdistan Alliance as a partner, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Kawa Mahmud, the culture minister and spokesman for the Kurdish regional government (KRG), told RFE/RL on March 25 that a commitment to a democratic, federated Iraq and adherence to the constitution are the preconditions for the Kurdistan Alliance to enter into an agreement with other blocs in forming a new government.

Tthe Kurdistan Alliance comprises the two major Kurdish parties: the Kurdistan Patriotic Union led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by KRG President Masud Barzani.

In his comments, Mahmud denied that recognition of the disputed Kirkuk Province as part of the Kurdish region is a precondition for any deal with the other major factions.

But he said the Kurdistan Alliance does insist on implementing Article 140 of the constitution, which provides for eliminating the demographic changes caused by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's "Arabization" drive in the oil-rich province. The alliance also wants a census -- and ultimately a referendum -- to determine the administrative status of Kirkuk.

Mahmud said that "the referendum may not necessarily result in declaring Kirkuk part of Iraqi Kurdistan, which itself is part of Iraq anyway."

He stressed that the Kurdistan Alliance will most likely remain a pivotal component in any ruling coalition and said the Kurdish bloc will serve as a force for stability.

In the recent vote, the Kurdistan Alliance won 43 seats in the 325-seat parliament. In the outgoing Iraqi parliament, Kurds held 58 seats, including 50 held by the Kurdistan Alliance. The other eight seats are held by smaller Kurdish factions.