March 18, 2011

Talabani acknowledges protesters and MP vote on their demands - By Shwan Zulal

President Talabni has finally acknowledged the protest in Maidani Azadi (Seray Azadi)and mentioned the new name of the square in an official statement. The PUK leader called the crowd’s demands inspirational and legitimate as well as confirming his support for prime minister, Barham Salih’s statement answering the demands of the protesters issued on Monday. Moreover he promised to accelerate reform and provide a better standard of living for people in Kurdistan. This recognition comes amid further tightening of security in Erbil by the KDP and reports of disagreement between the main two political parties of PUK and KDP. The rhetoric is retching up and both sides are using inflammatory language and bringing controversial figure on TV talking about divisions and past disagreements.

The ongoing security screening of Slemani residence travelling to Erbil has prevented a Goran MP from entering Erbil today, reported Lvinpress. The move by KDP have made PUK uncomfortable and there have been many conflicting reports about the level of unease among PUK leadership at  KDP's move to block people from Slemani travelling to Erbil. Many have described KDP's actions as unconstitutional and there has been calls for the issue to be raised in the Iraqi parliament.

Kurdistan parliament held an extraordinary session today and the MP's voted on the protesters demand. The motion was passed by the majority and the MPs have agreed to bring back Kurdistan Region constitution to parliament for further discussions and amendments. This move by KRG have been seen as a positive first step to see to public grievances , nevertheless, the initiative lacks details and no time frame have been proposed to carry out the reforms which is typical of KRG, hence the sceptical reaction by the public.

Meanwhile in a bizarre court hearing today, the two defendant accused of taking part in NRT attack have been released on bail. The attack resulted in burning down NRT building, which was the only independent media outlet in Kurdistan. One of the defendant has told the judge that he was not in his office when the attack took place and "was too overweight to take part in such operation". In an earlier speech the PM has mentioned that they have arrested two suspects and have been charged.

Protests are continuing in and around Slemani area entering its forth week and the protesters are as determined as ever. Today Maidani Azadi committee has announced that Nawroz celebrations would take place in the square in Slemani and they are expecting the largest crowd yet.  


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