The parliament of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq will reconvene this week and hold its first session since 2015, according to a statement released on Wednesday. Kurdistan parliament has been suspended since late 2015 when the speaker was blocked from entering Erbil amid political disputes between the autonomous region’s political parties.
— Abdulrahman Hamdi (@havall73) September 13, 2017
The announcement comes just 12 days before the Kurdistan Region is set to hold an independence referendum.
“As the Kurdistan Region marches toward its destiny, the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament needs to play its role in this historic and momentous event,” the statement said.
Also on Wednesday, Brett McGurk, the U.S. Envoy to the Coalition against the Islamic State, met with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party. Washington has been outspoken about its opposition to the Kurdistan referendum.
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) September 13, 2017
Last month, a U.S. State Department official told The Globe Post that while the U.S. respects the “legitimate aspirations of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan,” it is concerned that the non-binding referendum will distract from the counter-ISIS campaign and domestic issues.
One of the issues Washington has been concerned about is the resolution of disputes between the Kurdistan Region’s various political parties. The PUK, Gorran (Change) party and ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party agreed in principle on Tuesday to reactive the Kurdistan parliament. The KDP is leading the referendum campaign with the support of PUK, while Gorran has opposed it.
According to a PUK official, Mala Bakhtiyar, the three parties are working on a seven-point plan. The plan crafted by PUK calls for the reactivation of the Kurdistan parliament, ending cuts to public salaries, allowing people in disputed areas to vote for MPs, the approval of the referendum law, a constitution for the “state of Kurdistan,” rewriting the presidency law, and voting on members of the oil and gas fund.