Lawmakers elect Nechirvan Barzani president of Iraqi Kurdistan

Arbil (Iraq) (AFP) –


The Iraqi Kurdish parliament on Tuesday elected Nechirvan Barzani, the nephew and son-in-law of veteran leader Massud Barzani, as president of the autonomous region.

The deputy leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party won 68 votes from the 81 members present in the 111-seat chamber, an AFP correspondent reported.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of late Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, bitter rival of the powerful Barzani clan, had called for a boycott of the vote.

Nechirvan Barzani is the second person to hold the office of president, occupied by his uncle from its creation in 2005 until late 2017, when he quit following an independence referendum hotly opposed by Baghdad.

The younger Barzani, who was born in northern Iraq in 1966 but spent part of his life in Iran, speaks fluent Kurdish, Farsi and English.

In 1996, five years after the region won autonomy in the face of a brutal campaign of repression by late dictator Saddam Hussein, he became vice prime minister, then head of the government in 1999.

Iraqi Kurdistan was deeply split, with its Sulaimaniyah province remaining under a rival authority run by Talabani's PUK.

When the two camps decided to reunite the region under a unity government in 2006, Barzani was chosen to head it.

Barham Saleh, a senior PUK leader who is today president of Iraq, later took up the post, but the younger Barzani was reinstated in 2012.