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 Iraqi Kurds protest Kurdistan government corruption

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Iraqi Kurds protest Kurdistan government corruption  17.5.2011 

May 17, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —  People have been gathering in Sulaimaniyah's main square for nearly three months now, protesting what they allege is government corruption, nepotism, incompetence and anti-democratic measures.

Since then, at least 12 civilians have been killed across Iraqi Kurdistan, as the military forces of the ruling parties were deployed in the restive areas.

The protests and the accompanying violence have pushed the government and the opposition parties further away from each other than ever.

Massoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan region recently accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup - an accusation that is vigorously rejected.                        
By Matt Frazer, Press TV, Erbil
The statement was made at the inauguration ceremony of the 6th Congress of the minor Iraqi Kurdish party, the Social Democratic Party of Kurdistan.

Analysts say these kinds of inflammatory remarks are common in regional politics, and reflect more a lack of discretion than anything else.

The government has not issued any follow-up statement, and MPs for the President's party have refused to be drawn on those specific comments.

Meanwhile, backroom negotiations between the leaders of the opposition movement and the government are ongoing.

“With events elsewhere in the Middle East taking increasingly dramatic turns, the protests in Iraqi Kurdistan have failed to capture international attention.

As the demonstrations slowly sputter out, the government remains in a position of strength, with regards to accepting or rejection opposition demands.”

Since February till middle April, thousands of protesters gathered daily in Sulaimaniyah and other parts of Kurdistan against corruption and the lording over Kurdistan region by two main parties KDP and PUK. Kurdish protestors demand the ouster of the local Kurdistan government KRG,www.ekurd.netcalling for improving services and living conditions and fighting corruption. 

After 62 days of protests, the Governorate of of Sulaimaniyah has banned unlicensed demonstrations in the city. Heavy Kurdish forces deployed in the Sulaimaniyah city to prevent any demonstrations, and occupied the city center and other parts of Sulaimaniyah. The Security Committee in Sulaimaniyah banned on April 18 all sorts of protests.

Most of the demonstrators opposed Massoud Barzani, and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP. Ten people were killed and more than 700 others wounded and 220 more have been arrested in clashes between demonstrators and Kurdish security forces during a wave or protests that swept Sulaimaniyah. The Kurdish security forces (Asayish) arrested and tortured a lot of activists and journalists.

The protesters demand the Kurdish government and parliament resign to give way for “early transparent elections”. They complain about “monopolizing the economic and political authority,” by the two major parties of Kurdistan. Many observe allegiance to either of the two ruling patties a must to get employed and hence were deprived of the right. Kurdistan suffers from electric power deficiency but after almost 20 years of semi autonomy.

For decades, the KDP of regional president Massoud Barzani and the PUK of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have lorded over the region.

Massoud Barzani and his relatives control a large number of commercial enterprises in Kurdistan-Iraq, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The family is routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by Kurdish media as well as international observers.

Iraq's Kurdish regional government has near total autonomy and is funded by a share of the country's oil revenue. The two parties that share power each command former guerrilla militias that have been given the status of regional security forces.

Earlier Massoud Barzani told an Italian newspaper that if 50,000 Kurdistan citizens require him to step down, he will. Afterwards, the opposition parties led a signature campaign and reportedly collected even more votes to oust the president. However, the fate of those signatures is still unclear

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