Masoud Barzani, the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan, is stepping down from power next week amid a dispute with the government of Iraq over the autonomous region’s push for independence.
In a letter to Kurdistan Region members of parliament, Mr. Barzani laid out a plan to transfer his presidential powers to the prime minister – his nephew Nechirvan Barzani – and parliament and the judiciary after November 1.
“President Barzani refused to get any extension as parliament did for itself. He also refused to have any amendments for the presidential law,” Hemin Hawrami, a senior assistant to Mr. Barzani, told The Globe Post.
According to Kurdistan 24, Mr. Barzani said he would not accept a further extension of his current term, which expires on November 1. First elected in 2005, Mr. Barzani served two four-year terms and his presidency was first set to expire in 2013. The Kurdistan Regional Government parliament extended the second term, and a court further extended it in 2015.
Mr. Hawrami noted that Mr. Barzani had called for both parliamentary and presidential elections over the summer. “The president will continue leading the political process more actively,” he added.
Parliament is set to meet later on Sunday.
Mr. Barzani was under pressure from a number of parties to leave office following the deterioration of relations with Baghdad after Iraqi Kurdistan’s September 25 independence referendum.
Following the referendum, in which 92 percent of voters said yes to forming an independent state, the central government in Baghdad has moved to reassert control in the region and reclaim disputed territories, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
On Tuesday, the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament voted to postpone the planned November 1 elections and extend the current session. The same day, three parties – Gorran (Change) Movement, Islamic Group and Coalition for for Democracy and Justice – called on Mr. Barzani to resign, the presidency to be abolished, and for the formation of an interim “national salvation government.”
Mr. Barzani had previously said neither he nor any member of his family would stand in the next election. His son Masrour Barzani is head of the Kurdistan Security Council.