Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Quits amid Angry Protests
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The parliament speaker of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan, Yousef Muhammed, announced his resignation on Monday amid the ongoing protests in the city of Sulaymaniyah against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Muhammed, a senior member of the opposition Movement for Change (Goran) Party, said that he has always tried to use his position for the interest of his people and today's resignation served the same purpose, the Daily Sabah reported.
His decision came a week after the Goran and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) both announced their withdrawal from the KRG's ruling coalition to show support for the large anti-government rallies held in Sulaymaniyah.
Goran, which holds only 24 seats in the Kurdish parliament, forfeits the Kurdish parliamentary speakership, along with the KRG's finance and Peshmerga affairs portfolios.
Since December 18, Sulaymaniyah has been rocked by massive demonstrations by civil servants demanding payment of overdue salaries and an end of government corruption.
On December 19, at least five protesters were shot dead by local security forces in the city, while a number of public facilities -- including several party offices -- were torched by angry demonstrators.
The Kurdistan region has been suffering from financial and economic hardships as a result of disagreement with the central government in Baghdad over distribution of crude oil revenues extracted from the northern oilfields.
Tensions have been running high between Baghdad and the KRG after the Kurds held a controversial referendum on the independence of Kurdistan on September 25.