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PUK must maintain grip on Iraq presidency: Hero Ibrahim

Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, widow of former Iraqi president and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) founder Jalal Talabani, insists that the post of Iraqi president must remain in PUK hands, Rudaw reported.

“All the PUK members and I believe that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan be adamant on assuming the post of this sovereign position which is a symbol for the success of Mr Mam Jalal during his tenure as president,” Ahmed said in her statement.

The PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have both staked a claim to the presidency. The position has consistently been held by a member of the PUK since the removal of Saddam Hussein. As the biggest Kurdish party, however, KDP officials say they have a right to field a candidate of their own. 

“I would like to mention that... Mam Jalal has laid the foundation of the position and created it. He made the Iraqi presidency an important and leading institution which established its significance for Iraq and the world.”

Ahmed said the PUK leadership should nominate a candidate who has never split from the party. 

This was likely aimed at those who want to see Barham Salih, the PUK’s former prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, readmitted to the party in exchange for the Iraqi presidency. 

Bafel Talabani, Ahmed and Jalal Talabani's son, is rumored to have offered Salih the presidency if he agrees to return.

Salih quit the PUK in January to found the Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ).

Hemin Hawrami, a member of the KDP leadership council and head of the party’s list for the September 30 election, said on Thursday it is the KDP’s right to assume the post this time.

The KDP and PUK reached an agreement on the distribution of top jobs in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region back in 2005 which enabled the KDP to hold the Kurdistan Region presidency in exchange for the PUK taking the Iraqi presidency.

“But the KRG presidency has ended and the presidency’s law has been suspended until the next round [of parliament] so this agreement has ended also,” Hawrami said.

Hawrami hinted his party would not endorse another PUK candidate for the Iraqi presidency other than the late Jalal Talabani.