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KDP nominates Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani for Iraqi Kurdistan's top posts

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said on Monday it had nominated current premier Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Masoud Barzani as president of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Masoud Barzani’s son Masrour as premier of the regional government.

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaks during a news conference after casting his vote in Erbil during parliamentary elections in the semi-autonomous region of Iraq, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani/File Photo

With 45 of 111 seats, the KDP is the biggest party in the Kurdish assembly after September’s regional election but 11 shy of an outright majority, and will have to govern in coalition.

Masrour Barzani is currently Iraqi Kurdistan’s security chief. Both Masrour and Nechirvan have occupied senior roles within the KRG throughout the last decade.

Veteran Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, still the head of the KDP, stepped down after 12 years as regional president in November 2017, less than a month after helming a referendum on Kurdish independence that backfired and triggered a crisis for Iraq’s Kurds.

The post has remained vacant ever since. The president’s powers were divided between the prime minister, parliament and the judiciary in a makeshift arrangement, leaving the future of the presidency uncertain.

The semi-autonomous region does not have a formal constitution, having failed to ratify it in parliament since it was drafted in 2009.

Any future power-sharing arrangement would require a rethinking of presidential powers, which would need to be ratified by parliament.

“We still don’t know what the presidency will look like. Will it become a ceremonial post filled by parliament? ” said Kamal Chomani, a Kurdish political analyst and non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

“In any case, Nechirvan will be weaker than Masrour but will stay powerful enough to control the foreign relations of the KRI. It all depends on how the presidential law will be amended,” he said.

Relations with the previous Iraqi administration of prime minister Haider al-Abadi were strained by the referendum. But with a new Iraqi government in place, led by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Erbil and Baghdad have in recent weeks signaled a willingness to work together.

Reporting by Raya Jalabi in Baghdad and Ahmed Aboulenein in Cairo; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Richard Balmforth