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Gulan-media - Gorran member Haval Abubakir finally takes office as Sulaimani Governor
Gorran member Haval Abubakir finally takes office as Sulaimani Governor
Date: 04/12/2017 : 11:27:0839 Views

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The long-in-waiting candidate for the post of Sulaimani Governor, Haval Abubakir, has finally taken office on Monday morning, bringing an end a disputed issue that has continued for more than three years marked by high tensions between Kurdish parties.

Abubakir, age 46 and native of the Kurdish city of Halabja, is a member of the Gorran (Change) Movement, Kurdistan's second-largest party.

He took a Quran with him to his office from which he read some verses moments before he talked to media.

He said the new administration will serve all people with messages of peace "without any discrimination because we are all servants of God."

"It is our duty to cultivate the earth, keep peace, and love one another. We should turn the earth into heaven, instead of turning it into hell," he added while standing next to the former acting Governor Omar Qaladzaiye.

He said the situation in the Kurdistan Region, especially after the "catastrophe" of the fall of Kirkuk and other disputed areas to the Iraqi government requires that all people work and cooperate with one another so that the nation will develop and prosper.

Sulaimani is Kurdistan's largest province with vast fertile lands, touristic areas marked by high mountains and cool weather in summer, and where many factories and companies are based including Iraq's multi-billion telecommunication company Asiacell, a fact noted by Abubakir both as a candidate and now as the new governor.

He told Rudaw Monday that he will focus on the economy. It remains a question though how far he can go knowing that his term in office will officially end in April of next year.

"We are going to work on an important pillar, a significant issue which is the economy," Abubakir said, adding that his local administration will work to bring investment to the province.

He said he believes that the people of Sulaimani have great potential to move the province forward. He said while the province, like the rest of the Kurdistan Region, was disadvantaged by the atrocities of the former Iraqi regime including the Kurdish genocide, Anfal, Sulaimani was able to rise again and prosper both economically and politically.

Sulaimani is the stronghold of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its offshoot Gorran. The two ran a media campaign against one another marked with high-tensions. The PUK mainly focused on the candidacy of Abubakir.

The PUK in 2014 started to install campaign posters in the city that read the people of Sulaimani deserve a governor whose past is "clean," a reference to an accusation they made against Abubakir that he used to be a Ba'ath party member. Abubakir strongly denied the accusation.

File photo in April 2014 shows PUK poster in Sulaimani that accused the then Gorran candidate for the position of gover of being a Baath party member. He denied the accusations. Photo:Rudaw/Sartip Othman

Despite the accusations, Abubakir went on to win 250,000 votes, about two-thirds of all the votes cast for Gorran in Sulaimani, and his list came first with 12 seats, one seat ahead of the PUK. But this did not help Gorran or Abubakir to form the provincial government.

The issue was then resolved when the two parties agreed to power sharing that stipulated a PUK candidate will be a governor for the first two years of the four-year term, and then a Gorran candidate, Abubakir, will pick the post.

While the Sulaimani Provincial Council voted Abubakir as Governor-elect in August 2016 per the PUK-Gorran agreement, his party refused to seek a decree from the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani because of disagreements between Barzani's party and Gorran.

Gorran did not recognize Barzani's extended term in office, an issue that was resolved when Masoud Barznai stepped down as president on November 1 and his powers were distributed among Kurdish institutions.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who now has the power to issue decrees, approved the order to appoint Abubakir as the governor of Sulaimani last Monday. PM Barzani said then he wishes Abubakir success in his new position.

Governor Abubakir is a former head of the Sulaimani Provincial Council and holds a PhD in media studies.


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