Barham Salih and Hoshyar Zebari candidates for Iraqi presidency

A combined picture of current Iraqi President Barham Salih (L) and member of KDP politburo and former Iraqi finance minister Hoshyar Zebari

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The two major Kurdish parties have nominated candidates for the position of Iraqi president, as deadline set for nominations expire on Thursday.

A source with knowledge in Baghdad said the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had officially nominated Barham Salih, the current president of Iraq, for the position.

“Barham Salih’s office will submit a request for his candidacy and his CV to the Iraqi Council of Representatives tomorrow,” the source told Esta Media Network on Wednesday night.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives, which re-elected Mohammed al-Halbousi as its speaker, opened nominations for Iraq’s president on Tuesday, with deadline for submission of Thursday.

Parliament also has 30 days from the first session to elect the country’s new president, who will then ask the largest bloc in parliament to form a government.

Under an unofficial agreement dating back to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraq’s presidency — a largely ceremonial role — is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister is Shia and the parliament speaker is Sunni.

According to an agreement among the Kurdish parties, the PUK determines the candidate for the Iraqi presidency, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) maintains the presidency of the Kurdistan Region.

A source at the office of the Iraqi parliament said KDP politburo member Hoshyar Zebari, former Iraqi finance minister, had nominated himself for the Iraqi presidency.

“He has submitted sufficient documents in that regard,” the source told Esta Media Network.

In 2016, the Iraqi parliament sacked Zebari from his post as finance minister over alleged corruptions and misuse of public funds. Zebari denied the accusations.

Zebari, who also served as Iraq’s foreign minister for more than a decade, lost a no-confidence vote by 158 to 77.

It is the second time that the KDP nominates a candidate for the Iraqi presidency despite the agreement with the Kurdish parties.

In 2018, the KDP put forth a candidate to run for the position of Iraqi president and challenge PUK’s Salih. Yet, lawmakers elected Kurdish politician Salih as president with 219 votes.

The nomination of Zebari came a few days after he said the KDP would not have a candidate for the position.

“No, we won’t have a candidate and we will discuss with the other parties in this regard,” Zebari told reporters.

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