Shafaq News/ The Spokesperson to the parliamentary bloc of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Vian Dakhil, on Tuesday said that the withdrawal of the incumbent president, Barham Salih, from the presidential race "guarantees a strong participation" for the Kurds in the government.
Dakhil told Shafaq News Agency, "beside our candidate, there are 24 candidates for the post. The right to run for the post is guaranteed by the constitution."
"The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) shall explain the motives of its insistence upon naming Salih as their sole candidate for the presidency," she added, "Salih's withdrawal will pave the way for further agreements with the PUK. It is a guarantee for strong participation for the Kurds in the government."
"We are confident that the parliamentary majority will elect our candidate, Hoshyar Zebari, in the parliament session," Dakhil continued.
Iraq's President Barham Salih said on Tuesday he will run for a second four-year term in office, and called on his fellow politicians to vote for him in next week's parliamentary session.
Salih is among 25 candidates who have been approved by parliament to stand for the largely ceremonial role. The legislative body is scheduled to meet on February 7 to vote for the republic's next president in an important step towards the formation of a new government after October's general election.
The president of the republic "must be a symbol for the unity of the country and its sovereignty, a guardian to its constitution and a president for all Iraqis," Salih said in a televised speech.
"I am looking forward to assuming the responsibility once again," he said, listing his efforts since taking office in 2018 in leading initiatives to draft laws and tackling the challenges Iraq has been facing.
His nomination has raised tension between the country’s two main Kurdish parties. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) nominated Salih, a decision which was rejected by its rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP instead nominated former foreign and finance minister Hoshyar Zebari for the post.
A long-standing agreement among the Kurds usually sees a PUK nominee installed as president, while the KDP is left to run the Kurdistan region.
But the KDP is seeking to adjust the accounts after securing 31 seats in the 329-seat parliament in October's election, while the Kurdistan Alliance, led by the PUK, won only 17 seats.