Iraqi Kurdistan names Masrour Barzani as prime minister

The leading official has one month to form a government for the autonomous region

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Masrour Barzani, incoming Prime Minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the province's capital Erbil, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019. Andrew Cabellero-Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)
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The Iraqi Kurdish parliament named Masrour Barzani, the cousin of new President Nechirvan Barzani, as prime minister on Tuesday.

Mr Barzani is a leading figure in the Kurdish Democratic Party who was the region’s security chief and is the son of former president Masoud Barzani, who resigned in 2017 after a failed bid for independence from Iraq.

The Barzani family and their political party have ruled the semi-autonomous region since Iraq's constitution was set up in 2003 following the US-led invasion.

The official won the backing of 87 out of the 97 politicians present – 14 of the 111 did not attend the session – the Kurdistan Parliament said on Twitter.

The vote was boycotted by the KDP's main regional rivals, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Several smaller opposition parties, including the Kurdistan Islamic Group and the New Generation Movement also boycotted the session.

The two parties, who were foes during the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's era, have shared power in the region since 2003, but have been at odds lately over the allocation of posts in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

However, officials believe the new leader will assist President Nechirvan Barzani, who was sworn in to the role on Monday, in easing tensions with the central Iraqi government and deliver stability, local media reports said.

The regional presidency was vacant for more than 18 months until Mr Barzani's appointment.

The prime minister now has one month to form a government for the autonomous region.

Born in Erbil in 1969, Prime Minister Barzani joined the Kurdish security forces, known as the Peshmerga, as a 16 year old.

As national security adviser, he played a vital role in the region's fight against ISIS, who swept across a third of Iraq in 2014.

"I hope that together and under the leadership of President Barzani we can build a strong Kurdistan in the national interests of our peoples and nation," Mr Barzani said on Monday evening.

Both Masrour and Nechirvan have occupied senior roles in the Kurdistan region throughout the last decade.