Barham Salih, Former Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government and Head of the Coalition for Democracy and Justice with his wife show their ink-stained fingers after casting their votes at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal
Barham Salih, former Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, with his wife Sarbagh Salih show their ink-stained fingers after casting their votes at a polling station during the parliaShow more

Kurdish candidates court Baghdad ahead of presidential vote



Iraq’s main Kurdish parties backing opposing presidential candidates have begun their Baghdad lobbying efforts days ahead of the meeting in parliament to choose the next head of state to take up the largely ceremonial post.

The two main political parties in Kurdistan have been unable to agree on a nomination for the president, something that threatens their usually united front in Baghdad.

The Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) nominated Fuad Hussein, a former chief of staff to the previous Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, on Monday.

The rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) named Barham Salih as their choice last week, asserting that the post should be held by one of its members.

The country's top roles in government are shared between the predominant ethno-sectarian groups. The prime minister is a Shiite Arab; the speaker of parliament a Sunni Arab; and the president a Kurd.

Both politicians have been campaigning ahead of a scheduled parliamentary vote for the post next week.

Mr Hussien held talks with former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi and heads of political blocs.

"Our stance is to have strong ties between Erbil and Baghdad," Mr Hussein told Mr Al Maliki, adding that the KDP's nomination speaks volumes about their willingness to resolve the outstanding issues between the two sides.

The Kurdish politician also met with Hadi Al Amiri, a prominent but controversial Shiite militia commander who heads the Fatih coalition bloc which came in second in May’s parliamentary elections.

The KDP is currently the largest political party in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It won 25 seats in May's national elections, and any presidential candidate needs the party’s approval before being elected by the parliament in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Mr Hussein's rival, Mr Salih, met with populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who delivered a surprise win in the elections, in the Holy city of Najaf.

The two discussed parliament's preparations for electing a new president as well as the formation of the new government.

In addition to their nominations, there are six other candidates, including a woman, running for the post.

Sarwa Abdul Wahid announced her candidacy on Sunday, making her the first woman to run for Iraq’s top job. Ms Wahid, a former journalist who entered politics and led the Change bloc, was a critic of the region's independence referendum last September.

Two other Kurds – former Goran MP Sardar Abdullah and Iraq’s ambassador to Rome Omar Barzinji – have also nominated themselves.

Candidates not nominated by the major Kurdish parties are unlikely to corral enough votes to secure the presidency.

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Read more:

Kurds nominate Barham Salih for Iraqi presidency

Kurdish parties nominate rival candidates to Iraq's presidency

US calls for 'moderate, nationalist' government ahead of Iraqi parliament opening

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Tips on buying property during a pandemic

Islay Robinson, group chief executive of mortgage broker Enness Global, offers his advice on buying property in today's market.

While many have been quick to call a market collapse, this simply isn’t what we’re seeing on the ground. Many pockets of the global property market, including London and the UAE, continue to be compelling locations to invest in real estate.

While an air of uncertainty remains, the outlook is far better than anyone could have predicted. However, it is still important to consider the wider threat posed by Covid-19 when buying bricks and mortar. 

Anything with outside space, gardens and private entrances is a must and these property features will see your investment keep its value should the pandemic drag on. In contrast, flats and particularly high-rise developments are falling in popularity and investors should avoid them at all costs.

Attractive investment property can be hard to find amid strong demand and heightened buyer activity. When you do find one, be prepared to move hard and fast to secure it. If you have your finances in order, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Lenders continue to lend and rates remain at an all-time low, so utilise this. There is no point in tying up cash when you can keep this liquidity to maximise other opportunities. 

Keep your head and, as always when investing, take the long-term view. External factors such as coronavirus or Brexit will present challenges in the short-term, but the long-term outlook remains strong. 

Finally, keep an eye on your currency. Whenever currency fluctuations favour foreign buyers, you can bet that demand will increase, as they act to secure what is essentially a discounted property.