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 Six months after suspicious death of Zana Hama Salih, Sulaimaniyah still without new mayor

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Six months after suspicious death of Zana Hama Salih, Sulaimaniyah still...  3.9.2012 


Zana Hama Salih, deputy governor for the Sulaimaniyah, reportedly commits suicide in his jail cell after being detained on suspicion of taking bribes. On April 14, 2012 in the afternoon, Zana H. Salih was reported dead by the Kurdish security (Asayish). See Related Links
September 3, 2012

SLÊMANI, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— Nearly six months after the death of Slemani’s mayor, the seat remains vacant, though an acting mayor has been temporarily appointed.

Mayor Zana Hama Salih died earlier this year in a security prison in Slemani [Sulaimaniyah] under suspicious circumstances. He was being held for alleged involvement in a nearly half-billion dollar corruption case and died while in prison.

Authorities said he hanged himself, but family members strongly suspect he was murdered.

Slemani has been beset by political turmoil in recent years after a strong opposition movement emerged there during the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Kawa Abdullah, the chairman of Slemani Provincial Council (SPC), says a new mayor has to be appointed based on merit, but he is doubtful that will happen.

When the province’s governor was removed two years ago, again based on corruption allegations, a new governor was appointed without referring the matter to the SPC which has to legally approve any such appointment.

“Government cabinets do not take our role into consideration,” Abdullah complained, adding that it is the SPC that has the right to oversee the process of appointing a new mayor.

He said political parties appoint officials by circumventing proper legal procedures and venues.

A source told Rudaw that the appointment of the new mayor requires the approval of the ruling party in Slemani -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his wife Hero Ibrahim Ahmed is seen as having the final word on the appointment of the new mayor. She heads PUK’s local office in Slemani.


Jalal Karim, deputy minister of the interior, told Rudaw that his ministry is waiting for Slemani’s governor to nominate a candidate for the post. Karim said he was not aware of why no one had been nominated yet when six months have passed since the former mayor’s death.

He added that the new mayor has to “have good expertise in public administration and be experienced.”

“We would like to see a district director become the mayor of Slemani,” said Karim. District directors are in charge of smaller administrative units in Kurdistan and often get promoted to the position of mayor.

For a month after Salih’s death, Hoshyar Mustafa, the director of the neighboring Arbat district, served as Slemani’s mayor. He was replaced by Awat Mohammed Ghafour, another local official.

Azad Jundiyani, the spokesman for PUK’s political bureau, said his party does not intervene in government affairs, adding the appointment of the mayor is the “government’s job … and the government has to decide on it.”

For his part, Imad Ahmed, the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said that the Interior Ministry will decide on the matter.

“It’s not a big problem,” said Ahmed.

He added the delay in appointing a mayor for Slemani has been caused by a government plan to swap mayors between different provinces.

By Nawzad Mahmoud - Rudaw

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