Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region held parliamentary elections in September 2018, but divisions between the two dominant political parties have since prevented government formation (MEES, 5 October 2018). But talks this week between the KDP and PUK have resulted in an agreement for the new parliament to meet for the first time on 18 February. Parliament ought to then elect a speaker and two deputies.

Parliament convening will also enable security chief Masrour Barzani to take up his position as prime minister. His KDP party nominated him to succeed his cousin Nechirvan Barzani in December. Nechirvan Barzani himself has become president, having effectively held the position since November 2017 when his uncle (and Masrour’s father) Massoud Barzani stepped down in the wake of the September 2017 independence referendum (MEES, 22 September 2017). The KDP’s opponents frequently accuse the party of nepotism. The party dominates the west of the region, while the PUK’s stronghold is in the east. (CONTINUED - 152 WORDS)