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Steps to democratise and prosper Kurdistan
The Kurdistan Democratic Alliance
25/09/2012 00:00:00
The Kurdistan Democratic Alliance
The Middle East is going through socio-political changes that the region has not seen for decades. The so called Arab Spring and its implication on the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan is already visible. This is beside inner struggle among various sections of ruling political groups and power struggle among them even within the ruling families.
Kurdistan is going through a very delicate crossroad in its recent history. There is all possibility that Kurdish people advance its national interests and rights radically to have their own independent state within current generation, if the Kurdistan political leadership knows how to deal wisely with socio-political forces, internally, regionally and internationally. The whole political situation in Iraq and surrounding area i.e. Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, is up to many surprises. What will be the consequences on the whole political situation in Kurdistan?
The political situation is volatile. There are interventions from neighbouring countries politically, economically and socially; conservative and radical forces becoming more influential. Ruling political parties are unable to deal with the situation effectively. They are trying to act as if nothing happening whiles other sides building their strength.
For Kurdish political leadership to be able to grasp such historical opportunity, it needs to take courageous steps in modernising all aspects of the society for which, no doubts, they are not ready or capable.
In order to build democracy and civil society, the three powers - parliament, government and judiciary, need to be separated. This will strengthen and unite internal Kurdish home and democratisation of society on the bases of universal human rights, freedom, building a strong viable civil society to be base and foundation of such unity. It will be also bases and foundation for any future democratic Kurdistan state.
It is vital for democracy and civil society to establish a strong judiciary power, parliament, free from partisan interference. Kurdistan needs to take advantages of the Western democratic experience in running its Parliament. For example, in the UK, the Speaker (which is called the leader in Kurdistan Parliament) is independent in the way of running the sessions, does not vote, although he or she has the casting vote. The Speaker or his deputy runs the sessions individually. In Kurdistan case, there are 3 persons who are leading members of the political groups without declaring their independency, i.e. running the agenda of the party and not of the electorate. In this scenario the danger is, as we have seen in the past twenty years, on voting all the MPs are looking how the presidency is voting and follow suit. This is an affront to parliamentary democracy. It must be emphasised that the MPs, no matter to which party they belong, the only mandatory item to vote with their own party is on the items listed in the manifesto during the election. On the rest of the other issues, they have to follow their constituency and their conviction.
For the parliament to operate freely and represent the voice of the voters, the Strategic Agreement between PUK and KDP has to be abolished. The problem with the agreement is that the parliament decisions are made behind closed doors and parliament acts as a rubberstamp for closed door decisions. Parliament must be free in its decision making.
The executive power, the government, must operate its full power and not be paralysed by clan and political interference. The current government is not in control of the security, oil, finance, and foreign affairs. On the other hand, the government acts independently from the parliament, implementing party, clan and individual agenda.
As part of the Strategic Agreement the Prime Minster and the Speaker are changed every two years. The alteration of the Prime Minster and the Speaker of the Parliament needs to be addressed. Firstly, how can any cabinet achieve the task of serving the people or achieve its objectives in two years? What sort of arrangements is that the Prime Minister does not move his personal belonging out of the Prime Minister house, which is a public property, because he is certain that he will be back soon.
Every two years all the high ranking officials in the cabinet and the various ministries are removed or retired with a huge pension and a new group takeover for another two years and so on. Why don't they put forward a system of Permanent Deputy for every ministry, i.e. a non-partisan person, who is professional, technocrat and specialised in his/her own field, who stay in the post until retirement no matter which party win the election. This will lead to continuation, professionalism and work done for the nation rather than the political group.
The so called Strategic Agreement between both ruling groups, PUK and KDP, need to be abolished, as it is in fact a treatment to keep them in power. It is an agreement to keep Kurdistan divided between two administrations and maintain their corrupted officials.
The Presidential Council has acquired now absolute power in Kurdistan that legislates and rejects legislations ratified by the parliament while it has a full control over security apparatus, paramilitaries, oil, finance and foreign affairs. The president of Kurdistan must not be elected directly; he should be appointed by the parliament. He should not have any executive or legislative power. Oil and financial affairs should go under the ministry of finance. The ministry of foreign affairs should be established in the Kurdistan government.
All the party, clan, tribal and personal security forces must be abolished. Dastgay Zanyari, Dastgay Parastin, Dije-Teror, the personal guards of the party leaders, etc are all illegal organisations and need to be demolished. All security forces should be under the control of the Interior ministry, which will be part of the government.
Similarly, the issue of peshmerga needs tackling; as these forces are not national forces that work for national security but for the two main political groups. Strengthen the power, role of Peshmarga to be more professional, loyal to the Kurdistan people, accountable to Kurdistan Parliament and have a united non partisan leadership. They should be the vanguard to safeguard Kurdistan national interests’ not political parties. This force should never ever be used against Kurdistan people whatever the political turmoil or political situation.
All the ranks that are given by ways of corruption to party members, relatives of tribe leaders must all be demolished. Modern and non-partisan military schools should be established to bring up a new generation of military personal loyal to the people.
The way must be paved to enhance and strengthen the role and participation of women in building new egalitarian society and the participation of young generation in both political power and decision making to have more and better opportunities in the society.
The Kurdistan society is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society and the only way to solve the religious conflicts is to separate religion from politics, so that Kurdistan can achieve the coherent society, which needs to be established. Other ethnic groups should have their rights as enshrined in the international laws, treaties and norms. This is the only way the Kurdistan gain respect among the international community.
Without the total elimination of corruption, none of these can be achieved. The lack of transparency, lack of accountability, nepotism, corruption, control over finance and economy, etc are serious issues that have led the population lose trust in politics, political power and politicians. Kurdistan needs to build barriers in the system to stop these. For example, the head of the government, Prime Minister, the President of Kurdistan and the Speaker of the Parliament should not exceed two terms, i.e. 4 or 8 years. The president of Kurdistan must not be elected directly, the parliament should nominate him. In this way the parliament would have more weight.
Serious investment needed in social and economic development to narrow the gap between various social classes in order to build effective egalitarian society and social justices.
International and local investments need to be encouraged to build an effective economic and social infrastructure. The Kurdistan economy should be based on advanced industrial agriculture, heavy industry suitable to the region, transportation, human resources development, etc to develop current situation.
The natural resources should be used with responsibility, taking into account the needs of the generations to come. Oil and gas should not be sold at bargain prices illegally for the interest of clans, tribes and individuals.
Kurdistan will never gain regional and international respect without taking these major steps.
The Kurdistan Democratic Alliance
September 2011