Kurdish government closes offices of pro-PKK party

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq has shut down the offices of a political party which sympathizes with the separatist PKK rebel group fighting Turkey, a Kurdish official said on Saturday.

Fouad Hussain, head of the office of Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, said offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party in the region had been shut because the party did not have a license to operate.

Iraq’s government, under pressure from Turkey, which is massing troops on the border and threatening a major incursion against the PKK, has repeatedly promised to close offices linked to the rebel group in northern Iraq.

The Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party has offices in Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Dahuk, Mosul and Kirkuk.

Witnesses said the Arbil office had been closed on Saturday, but the Sulaimaniya office was still open. Officials said it would be shut later in the day.

The head of the party, Faik Gulpi, told Reuters last week that the party shared the aims of the PKK but did not provide it with any military support.

The party shares the PKK’s goal of creating an independent Kurdish state and registered to take part in Iraq’s parliamentary elections in 2005. It won just 15,000 votes and no seats in parliament.

Kurdish officials had previously said they would take no action against the party unless links with the PKK could be proved.