Seven candidates to vie for Iraq's presidential post

By Mehmet Nuri Ucar

BAGHDAD (AA) – On Oct. 2, the Iraqi parliament will select a new president for the third time since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

Seven candidates, including one woman, are vying for the position.

According to a statement issued by parliament, the candidates are Sardar Abdullah; Sarwa Abdul-Wahed; Abdullatif Rashid; Omar Barzanji; Barham Saleh; Fuad Hussein; Abdulkarem Abtan al-Joubori.

Thirty-one people have applied to register their candidacies, but, following assessments by the authorities, only seven applicants were approved.

Fourteen candidates failed to provide evidence of their political experience, while nine others lacked the necessary qualifications. Another withdrew their candidacy request.

According to the parliamentary statement, the final list of candidates will be made public on Sunday.

Barham Saleh, a former prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and Fuad Hussein of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), are both seen as frontrunners.

– Dispute

Despite the fact that the PUK has largely determined the president since 2005, Kurdish parties have failed to agree on a single candidate this time around.

The KDP, for its part, wants to be included in the negotiations in hopes of ending the PUK’s dominance in this regard.

Former and current presidents Jalal Talabani (two terms) and Fuad Masum, both of whom hailed from the PUK, both held the presidency after having been elected by parliament.

Sarwa Abdul-Wahed, the lone female candidate, said at a press conference in Baghdad: "I declare my candidacy for the presidency as an independent female politician who will represent all Iraqis.”

In a first-round poll, the candidate who obtains two-thirds of the votes in the 329-seat parliament will be elected as president.

If no one succeeds in winning the first round, the two candidates to obtain the most votes will compete in a second round, in which a simple majority is needed to win.

Under an unwritten agreement between Iraqi political groups struck in 2003, the post of president is reserved for a Kurd, that of prime minister for a Shia Muslim and that of parliament speaker for a Sunni Muslim.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara