As party’s co-presidents face off, Talabani and PUK Politburo meet to discuss power struggle


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SULAIMANI — Two days after renewed action in the power struggle within the party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Politburo met on Wednesday (August 4) for discussions about how to resolve its profound internal problems.

The meeting was chaired by PUK Co-President Bafel Talabani, but a number of key players were absent. His counterpart and rival, Lahur Sheikh Jangi, was not present, nor were his allies on the Politburo.

It was the first such meeting since July 8, when Talabani and his younger brother, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, began a campaign to oust Sheikh Jangi and his camp from positions of power within the fractious party.

In subsequent days, several people close to Sheikh Jangi were removed from important positions within the PUK-affiliated security forces and replaced with Talabani loyalists. A media outlet that supported him was raided.

The push seemed to work, with Sheikh Jangi announcing on July 19 that he would temporarily relinquish his powers as co-president pending a restructuring of the leadership.

But on Monday, Sheikh Jangi declared in a statement that he would instead seek to resolve the power struggle in court, citing the party’s inability to conduct an investigation into accusations made against him in the course of the attempt to remove him.

He also alleged that the Talabanis had attempted to force him to leave the Kurdistan Region, which he said he refused to do.

While court action is unlikely, the statement signaled Sheikh Jangi's intention to resist his ouster.

On Wednesday, the Politburo said in a statement that a major topic of discussion was how to maintain security and peace in the Kurdistan Region and Sulaimani.

It also discussed ways to harness the material and spiritual potential of party ahead of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in October.

The PUK is running on a joint list with the Change Movement (Gorran). Sheikh Jangi had been the chair of the list, but he was replaced by Qubad Talabani following his July 19 statement.

(NRT Digital Media)