President Barzani Calls for Kurdistan Reforms

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, called on Monday for a raft of reforms after protests against nepotism, corruption and a political stranglehold by the two main parties.

He urged parliament for early provincial elections and the speedy creation of an integrity commission to check corruption and nepotism in many areas, including official appointments and energy contracts.

"I call on parliament to fix a date for early provincial elections in Kurdistan," Barzani said, according to a report by AFP.

He was referring to provincial polls held across Iraq in January 2009 but not in the Kurdish region which comprises three northern provinces and the disputed province of Kirkuk.

He said political parties and media organisations should declare where they get their resources, saying only the Kurdistan government reserved the right to hold relations with another country.

Barzani added large private companies should sell their stock more equally, suggesting that currently only the rich and well-connected can buy lucrative company shares.

He also said oil and gas contracts in Kurdistan should be signed with greater transparency.

For decades, Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, have lorded over the oil-rich northern region, says AFP.

But the uprisings in the rest of the Middle East and across Iraq -- including the Kurdistan region -- have been a wake-up call for the Kurdish leaders.

Rallies in the region's second biggest city of Sulaimaniyah last month left three people dead, and have been followed by nearly daily demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the opposition in Kurdistan has said it has collected 50,000 signatures calling for Barzani's resignation.

(Source: AFP)

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