Iraq's President Barham Salih nominated by ruling Kurdish party to run for second term

Iraqi-Kurdish politics is dominated by an informal pact between the two parties

Iraqi President Barham Saleh gestures as he addresses a press conference alongside the French President at The Elysee Palace in Paris on February 25, 2019.  Saleh is on a two-day visit to France with a focus on the country's security and the fight against the Islamic State group in the region.  / AFP / POOL / Christophe Ena
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Barham Salih, a veteran of the Iraqi political scene, was nominated by one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s leading political parties to run for president.

If confirmed, it will be his second term.

Iraq’s political system is divided among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political parties.

Top positions such as the presidency are reserved for a nomination from one of the two main Kurdish parties, while Shiites get the prime minister’s post and Sunnis get the parliamentary speaker's position.

“We state our full endorsement for the current Iraqi President to run for a second term," the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said.

The party's nomination has held the position of presidency since 2005.

Iraqi Kurdistan is divided both geographically and politically by two political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which is led by the Barzani family and the PUK led by the Talabani family.

These zones solidified after a short civil war between the two sides in 1994.

They have had a long-standing agreement whereby the PUK nominates the Iraqi president of its choice and the KDP gets the presidency of Kurdistan's regional government.

But after the Iraq elections in 2018, the KDP put forth a candidate and challenged Mr Salih's nomination.

The party last week marked Hoshyar Zebari as its nominee for the presidency in response to the PUK’s candidate.

Mr Zebari was Iraq's finance minister but was removed from office after a vote of no confidence over alleged corruption and misuse of public funds.

He was later cleared of the charges.

In response, the PUK said the "KDP has taken steps independently and made agreements with some political parties without any regards to the will of Kurdish parties and Kurdish unity".

Who is Barham Salih?

Mr Salih became the ninth president of Iraq in October 2018 when Parliament elected him with an overwhelming majority.

He has held several high-ranking positions in Baghdad's central government.

He served as the deputy prime minister for economic affairs and the head of the parliamentary economic committee from 2005 to 2009.

Mr Salih was also the planning minister in the Iraqi transitional government and in 2004 held the role of deputy prime minister in Iraq’s interim government, before the country's first official elections in 2005, after the end of the Baath regime.

The Kurdish leadership expected Mr Salih to head the Kurdistan electoral slate and he was designated to form the sixth Kurdish government. He then became the prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government from 2009 to 2011.

He was also the prime minister of the KRG in Sulaymaniyah in 2001 for three years.

Updated: January 25, 2022, 10:00 AM