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 KDP-PUK abuse of democracy 

 Source : Simko Azad - opinion
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KDP-PUK abuse of democracy  8.7.2009 
By Simko Azad 

July 8, 2009

The campaigning for the Kurdish parliament and regional presidency has now been underway for two weeks and the campaigning methods of the different lists highlight their underlining ideologies. The behaviour of List 54, a list formed by Kurdistan’s two traditional political parties, Barzani’s KDP and Talabani’s PUK, is a disgrace to the democratic process and highlights the totalitarian nature of these organisations and the power lust of there out of touch and corrupt leadership.

The ‘Kurdistani’ List is headed by Dr Barham Saleh. At one time it could be said that Dr Barham Saleh was seen as a hopeful future candidate by Kurds in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Not a well known party apparatchik at the time of the civil war Saleh managed to dissociate his name with the bloodshed. His purported academic credentials and his fluent use of the English language helped to set him apart from other Kurdish leaders, especially for Kurds in the Diaspora.

Barham Saleh was a long term PUK representative in the US and it was hoped that his selection as Kurdistani list president signalled the PUK and KDP’s democratic intentions however it appears that while Saleh returned to his homeland with the worst aspects of American democracy, a love for the limelight nearing shameless self promotion and sound bite politics he did not imbibe any of its best.

Dr Saleh and his list have shamelessly used public funds to finance their own election campaign. Spending millions of dollars which belong to the Kurdish people to buy cart loads of posters baring Saleh sticking his thumb up and literally wallpapering Kurdistan’s cities. They have spent countless dollars on buying singers to perform for them, one notable example being the Iranian Kurd, Azzizi Waisi whose name is now synonymous with mercenariasm amongst the people of the region. Another singer reported that he had been offered 200,000 dollars to sing saddamesque ballads for Barzani and Talabani. They have also used Kurdsat, KurdistanTv, ZagrosTv, GalikurdistanTV and all other TV stations which are funded by the KRG to broadcast their propaganda.

They have furthermore used there influence on the governing bodies to side step rules on the location of election material and draped governmental offices and even mosques with there banners and posters. Not content on having a free hand on posting there election material, members of the Kurdistani List have also been found destroying the banners and posters of their competitors.

While Jalal Talabani’s visits to towns and villages have become notorious with governmental agencies being closed for days at a time to make sure that there workers can be forcibly sent to parade in the hope of faking popularity for the deeply unpopular ruling parties.

Saleh’s list has also resorted to campaigning in the most base way, the buying of votes. There own political party controlled media regularly boasts of this money for votes campaign. This started with Saleh’s own bribe of 800,000 US dollars to Sulaimaniyah's artistic association and includes bribes paid by Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s President to divergent groups ranging from 5,000 dollars to the leaders of the regions Kakai religious minority to 50,000 Iraqi dinars to the regions so called ‘religious teachers’ the irony of a priest being bribed being lost on the regions old school politicians.

Saleh’s lists litany of electoral infringements however goes beyond the mere buying of votes into territory which is usually the domain of despots such as Mugabe. In a co-ordinated campaign of intimidation and coercion thousands of members of the PUK and KDP have been brought up in front of adhoc committees and questioned regarding there allegiance any party member suspected of favouring the ‘change movement’ is then stripped of there salary. This is a difficult situation to find oneself in, as the KDP and PUK have so monopolised the regions economy that finding work in a non-political party sponsored post is near impossible.

Not content with firing members of there own parties the KDP/PUK have extended their coercion into the regions officially non partisan security and defence apparatus with countless reports of the regions officers being sacked or demoted for expressing the wrong political opinion or for simply tuning into the wrong TV station. With viewing KNN (a station affiliated with the change movement being banned from many barracks across the region) being equated with treachery. This has delegitimised the peshmerga in the eyes of many of the regions residents and indeed shows the regions defence forces are a militia force rather than a modern military entity.

As the campaigning continues and nears the election date it can only be expected that Dr Barham Saleh’s lists struggle to continue its despotic and failed tenure will continue and increase in intensity but it is clear that they are losing the struggle and that change has truly come to the Kurdish political arena.

The contents of this article reflect the author's personal opinions

Copyright, respective author or news agency, Simko Azad 


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