President of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani will not extend his presidential term beyond November 1, says a Kurdish government official.
The unnamed official said that Barzani in a letter sent to the Kurdish parliament on Saturday had outlined a plan to divide up the president’s power.
The official added that the parliament would meet Sunday to redistribute the powers of the president.
An unnamed source told the Kurdistan24 broadcast news station that the reports claiming the letter is Barzani’s resignation were “untrue.”
Last week, parliament decided “to freeze the activities” of Barzani, his vice-president Kosrat Rasul and the head of the presidential cabinet, Fuad Hussein.
On October 22, the main opposition party of Iraq’s Kurdistan region called on Barzani to quit, calling for the formation of a “National salvation government.”
“The Kurdistan presidency must be dissolved and a national salvation government be formed to overcome the current situation,” said a statement released by Gorran, or the Change Movement party.
Federal Iraqi forces have peacefully taken control of all border crossings ringing the Iraqi Kurdistan following an agreement with Kurdish authorities.
In defiance of Iraq’s stiff opposition, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a non-binding referendum on September 25 on secession from the central government in Baghdad, which slammed the vote as unconstitutional.
The Iraqi government responded to the referendum by taking a number of punitive measures, including a campaign to seize back positions held by Kurdish forces since 2014, when they joined the fight against Daesh terrorists.
Under criticism from Iraq and the entire international community, the Kurdish leadership has now offered to suspend the results of the vote and engage in dialog with the central government, but Baghdad wants the results to be fully canceled.
Barzani was elected president by the KRG parliament in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 by a popular vote – Kurdistan’s first direct presidential election. The parliament extended his mandate until August 20, 2015 after his second term expired in 2013.