Kurdistan region needs radical changes
Report of four Kurdistani parties to Kurdustan public opinion
Kurdishaspect.com - Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
The following is the full text of the report addressed to Kurdistan public opinion launched in a press conference by leaders of four smaller Kurdistani parties in Arbil on 10 January 2009.
The Report of the four parties to Kurdistan region's public opinion
No doubt that the toppling of the dictatorial Ba'thist regime in April 2003 was a big transformation and a great achievement in the political life of the peoples of Iraq in general and the people of Kurdistan in particular. It put a limit to the tragedies of an era of dictatorship, repression, eradication, genocide, deportation and displacement.It opened a new horizon for the solution of the Kurdish question and the fulfillment of the demands of the people of Kurdistan so that they will be free from the threats of attacks and the dark dangers of future to their destiny.
The positive and important point in the life of the people of Kurdistan after the change of the regime in Iraq was the constitutionalisation of the political power and the reunification of the two administrations of the region. This on the one hand, broadened and increased the conditions, possibilities and opportunities in front of the political power and government of Kurdistan region, and created a political situation that would respond to the needs, demands and ambitions of the people of Kurdistan and compensate them for the sacrifices and struggle of their past. On the other hand, the expectations and aspirations of the people of Kurdistan increased and became bigger and broader especially after the establishment of the new Iraqi government when Kurdistan region received a considerable share in [the Iraqi] parliament, and sovereign posts and obtained a proper [17 per cent] share of the Iraqi federal budget in addition to its own internal revenues which are not small.
These facts make us and the people of Kurdistan ask: Why, for what reasons, the flaws and deficiencies are persistent in all aspects of people's lives and the problems and crises of our life remain without solutions and are ongoing? Or why are the real factors of the current situation, the continuation of which will take us towards terrible outcomes, not frankly and transparently presented and explained to the people of Kurdistan and the public opinion in Kurdistan region so that the discontent of people will not reach to a degree that they become hopeless about the political power?
People's carelessness and indifference is an expected outcome of the discontent and protest of people about deficiencies, corruption, lack of services, failures of reconstruction projects, failure to improve the living conditions and chances of people. All these are about to become an established phenomenon and this is an alarming bell at both the level of the internal conditions of Kurdistan region, and the level of its relations with the federal government. It will leave its bad and negative impact on the general mode of life in the region and on [dealing with] issues and conflicts with the other elements of the Iraqi federal power.
Considering the facts we have indicated, we as the four parties that are participating in the political process of Kurdistan, believe that the region's political, economic and administrative reform will be the greatest factor of support for our experience and issue and we must ignore the reform and democratic process of the region on the grounds of various pretexts. For this reason, we presented a memorandum to the region's presidency and then we presented a reform project to the premiership of the government. We hoped that they will adopt a quick and practical plan for responding to our demands, but unfortunately one year has passed without any considerable step being taken. That is why we found it necessary that at the beginning of the new year and for the sake of the protection of the unity of our national ranks, political consensus and the solidity of the internal ranks and cooperation in the face of the challenges that face the region and the people of Kurdistan, we would inform the public opinion in Kurdistan and explain to them through this report that: it is necessary that Kurdistan Regional Government will develop clear and more transparent well-devised and programmed plans with the assistance and cooperation of experts and specialists in all areas to deal with the issues of corruption, lack of public services, construction projects, economic development, responsible policies to develop agricultural sector and reconstruct the villages. These aims must no more be postponed on the account of daily management of the problems of the political power inside and outside the region. We hope that in the new year they will pay responsible attention to them.
Here we find it necessary to identify some important and basic areas in which reform will play the decisive role in the development of our region:
1) Political system and power in Kurdistan region:
Kurdistan region as an administrative unit has attained a good degree of political stability since the aftermath of the uprising of March 1991 through the elections for Kurdistan parliament, the adoption of federalism, the reunification of the two administrations, the election of the region's president, and the formation of the unified cabinet. Kurdistan region has also claimed that it wants to establish the principles of democracy in power, government system and administration. The political system in Kurdistan is a parliamentary system comprising legislative, executive and judiciary powers. But all the areas of this system are directed and managed by political parties. As a result these powers have been unable to carry out their roles adequately and protect their independence. That is why the first point for the reform of these institutions is the separation of political party from the constitutional institutions of the region.
We, on our part, based on our belief that the democratic system must continuously revise and renew itself and adapt itself to the needs of the new stages and demands of the people who are the source of its legitimacy and are the watchful agent over it, find it necessary to identify and present some important principles for further development and consolidation of this system and creating equal opportunities for creative participation in and practice of the democratic rights and improving the structures of power and government:
1.1 Kurdistan region presidency
It is one of the important institutions of power in Kurdistan region and it represents the official and institutional face of communicating the position and political activities of the region whose powers and characteristics are established by a specific law. Hence, we see it important to identify some points in relation to this important institution:
- 1. Setting up a 'security council' to identify the outlines and framework of Kurdistan's national security, investigate destiny-making issues and study any political position and decision concerning the people and land of Kurdistan [region] and its system. The powers and tasks of this council should be established by a specific law. This council will be able to develop institutions of strategic studies and make recommendations about decision-making in Kurdistan by benefiting from the specialist and technocratic abilities inside and outside Kurdistan,.
- 2. Kurdistan Region President Mas'ud Barzani should give up his party posts and responsibilities during his presidency term.
- 3. Institutionalisation of the institution (power-structure) of region's presidency.
1.2 Kurdistan parliament
- 1. Activation of Kurdistan parliament and its committees in the areas of monitoring and accountability.
- 2. Ratification of Kurdistan region's constitution on the basis of national interests, democratic principles and the consideration of the permanent constitution of Iraq and the specificity of Kurdistan region.
- 3. Organizing political activity in Kurdistan including the two dimensions of ruling power and oppositions and the creation of equal opportunity to very political groups in all areas.
4. Organizing general elections for Kurdistan parliament in its due time.
- 1.3 Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
- 1. Better organisation of the government and the reunification of the ministries and agencies of the previous administrations of Sulaymaniyah and Arbil that have not reunified yet and unifying the administrative system within a legal framework.
- 2. Organizing the activities and powers of all the ministries, and government and service-delivery institutions by law within the framework of government institutions.
- 3. Better and in-depth monitoring of human rights in Kurdistan and incorporation of the rights established in international charters and conventions into the laws, rules, regulations and decisions of KRG.
- 4. Distancing the control of political parties from government institutions and bodies.
- 5. Allowing the administrative heads to practise their powers and moving away from centralism in administration affairs.
- 6. Security agencies must be a part of the administrative system of the government and not outside government power and their officials should be accountable like any other government official.
- 7. Organizing Kurdistan peshmarga forces within the framework of a united force according to the Constitution and the region's laws and their allegiance should be only to the homeland.
1.4 Judiciary power
Reforming the judiciary power by:
- 1. Foundation of judiciary institutes
- 2. Public Prosecution body to be activated and made part of the judiciary power.
- 3. Heads of courts and judges should be independent, impartial and competent people.
2. Reforming the economic system
- 1. Activating the free market system and liberating it from monopolization and turf control and building the economic infrastructure, paying attention to the development of the private sector and local production and ensuring equal opportunities to businessmen and protection of the rights of workers and contractors in Kurdistan.
- 2. Devising a strategic plan for the development of the agricultural sector, irrigation and agricultural industries.
- 3. Using the oil and other natural resources' revenues for people's needs and interests and taking the interests of the next generations into consideration.
3. Integrity and Inspection Agency
Inspection, accountability and transparency are the most important principles upon which a responsible and modern power is built. They are the most important foundations of the state of law, a good beginning for the establishment of the rule of law and healthy management of the service sectors and they are bold steps for following up negligence and waste of public finances and property and for the control of corruption at whatever level and rate.
Therefore we find it necessary to form an 'integrity commission' from independent and competent people according to a law which will establish its powers, tasks, the mechanisms of its work and its budget.
4. Reform of administrative system and services
- 1. Amendment of civil services law, state employees law and the regulations that are relevant to government employees in a way that they correspond to the conditions and circumstances of the new stage.
- 2. Forming a higher committee in every ministry according to the specific nature of each ministry for the reduction of bureaucracy and eliminating the unnecessary routine administrative layers and chains which act as obstacles for efficient performance of tasks.
- 3. Ministry of Planning should organize special training courses for employees, at the level of the ministries and governorates, in areas of various specialties in order to raise the competence standards of the officials and employees.
- 4. Reforming governorates' councils and giving them power according to the governorates' law so that they will play their roles in the area of services and exercise their function within their remit, and holding governorates councils elections in their due time.
- 5. Reforming Public Service Council and organizing the process of recruitment and employment in government bodies and institutions according to legal criteria and the needs of the public sector and publicly advertising all vacancies and filling vacant posts according to criteria of qualification, competence and ability.
- 6. Finding a solution for the inflation [over-employment] of the salaried staff.
- 7. Water, drainage, electricity, health and education should be identified as service priorities.
- 8. Big service projects should first be approved by the Planning Council
- 9. Service projects should be approved by the relevant ministries before the start of their implementation.
5. The outstanding problems between the Kurdistan region and Baghdad
After all the strong positions and persistence by the Kurdistan ruling power in relation to the outstanding issues between Kurdistan region and Baghdad, the principal issues are still without a solution. The reasons of this are, on the one hand, the backward mentality of power [in Baghdad] and weakness of the democratic culture in Iraq and on the other, the weakness in the ability of Kurdistan political leadership in managing the art of negotiations and determination of issues, non-reliance on scientific studies and negotiation skills in addition to a number of other internal weaknesses that have weakened the position of the negotiators. Often Kurdistan delegates in Baghdad after days of meetings in Baghdad would give the impression to the public opinion that the issues have been solved while , in facts, these issues had become more problematic. Also, the lack of an elaborated unified position by the political leadership in Kurdistan about the demands of the people of Kurdistan in their dealing with the American and Iraqis, following the policy of naïve trust and baseless optimism were other factors for keeping the outstanding problems unsolved.
In spite of these flaws, we notice that today lack of plan, the absence of strategy and unified position are more evident and this is read as a point of weakness in Kurdish leadership in relation to the solving of the issues. Therefore, we find it necessary to present our approach to the outstanding issues within the framework of joint action and approach for solving them:
- 1. Article 140 is a strong constitutional basis for fighting for a legal solution for the detached areas and above all Kirkuk. [The Kurdish political leadership] must not in any way accept a consensual or political solution outside the Constitution which will not guarantee the restoration of all rights.
- 2. The Kurds must adopt a realistic policy within the framework of alliances, relations and agreements with all the Iraqi political groups and blocks.
- 3. We must work with common plans and visions for the fulfillment of the national rights of our people for which we have sacrificed for decades. That is why it is important to review our priorities and even our alliances for now and future.
6. The relations between Kurdistan region and the federal Iraq:
Kurdish people as one of the main constituents of the Iraqi state share all the powers of the representative political system of the Iraqi state. This has offered the Kurds an excellent opportunity. That is why the masses of Kurdistan must follow up the agendas and issues and their constitutional rights with their representatives in Baghdad and bring them to account why these issues are still unsolved:
- 1. The shaky and volatile state of the relation between Kurdistan region an the Iraqi state and this has led to tying the events, changes and decisions to the roles and opinions of the individual [Kurdish] officials, with a serious and effective impact on the practice of power and the general direction of life and issues of Kurdistan region, instead of the role of legal procedures and formal institutions.
- 2. Many important issues affecting the life of the people of Kurdistan are repeated every year and from time to time such as the issue of Kurdistan region's budget, the issue of peshmarga forces, the issue of medicine and drugs, the issue of share [of Kurdistan region] in state food allowances, and the issue of Kurdistan region's share in electricity. Instead of dealing with most of these issues through established specialist institutions and finding formal solutions to them [are left for personal decisions]. It should have been the responsibility of the Kurdistan region's representatives to have formally presented and discussed these issues at the Council of Ministers, the relevant ministries , the Council of Representatives and the public institutions of the federal government with the aim of sorting out and solving them.
- 3. The constitutional issues such as the defining of the borders of Kurdistan region according to article 140, the issue of the region's guards, the issue of the amendment of the Constitution, the natural resources and especially boil and gas and the right of signing contracts by the region and the issue of the participation of the region's representatives in the Iraqi embassies broad. It is the duty of the representatives of the people of Kurdistan to play their roles in explanation and mobilization for supporting the constitutional demands of the people of Kurdistan in these areas and to convey to the people of Kurdistan the understanding and approach of the Iraqi officials so that both sides engage in debating issues publicly with clear vision and transparency.
This report is the summary of the vision and understanding of these four parties. We present it to the public opinion in Kurdistan region with the aim of unifying all the sympathetic abilities in the direction of practical steps for reform and the application of democracy in Kurdistan.
Kurdistan Islamic Union
Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party
Kurdistan Toilers Party
Kurdistan Islamic Group