Sadr announces condition to support KDP’s candidate for Iraqi presidency
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Muqtada al-Sadr, the main winner of the latest parliamentary elections in Iraq, called on members of his bloc at the parliament to avoid voting for Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) candidate for Iraqi presidency if he does not meet conditions.
Iraq held snap elections on October 10. The parliament presidency was elected last month following a deal between Kurdistan Region’s ruling KDP, Sadrist bloc and most Sunnis. The legislature is scheduled to meet on February 7 to elect a new president for the country. The KDP has fielded Hoshyar Zebari, who has previously held several positions in Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has nominated the incumbent Iraqi President Barham Salih for the position.
KDP officials have claimed that they have enough support from Iraqi political parties to make Zebari the next president of the country. However, Sadr said in a tweet on Friday that his support for the KDP is conditional.
“If the candidate of our ally, the [Kurdistan] Democratic Party, for the President of the Republic does not meet all the conditions … I call on the representatives [MPs] of reform to not vote for him,” the prominent Shiite cleric said, referring to his Sadrist bloc.
Later in the night, Zebari told Iraqi state media that his party’s alliance with Sadr is “strong and coherent.”
According to a long-standing customary agreement, the three main leadership positions in the Iraqi government are divided among Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Kurds get the presidency, Shiites get the premiership, and Sunnis get the parliamentary speaker. Among Kurds, the PUK has held on to the presidency position since 2005.
Zebari’s candidacy has been approved by the parliament, meaning he has met all the conditions to become the president of the country. It is not clear what conditions Sadr is talking about. However, some Iraqi and Kurdish politicians have claimed that Zebari was involved in corruption cases when he was Iraqi finance minister between October 2014 to September 2016 when he lost a no-confidence motion over allegations of corruption.
KDP and PUK have increased their efforts in Baghdad to gain support for their candidates.