The Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) was promulgated as an institution by the Kurdistan Parliament in 2005. The President of the Kurdistan Region has the highest executive authority. He or she is elected by secret ballot in a popular vote every four years and can stand for election for a second term.
Masoud Barzani, the current president, was elected as the Kurdistan Region’s first president on 31 January 2005 by the Kurdistan Parliament, and re-elected by secret popular ballot by the people of the Kurdistan Region in July 2009, with 70% of the vote. The President’s secretariat, called the Diwan, is headed by the Chief of Staff.
The President represents the people of Kurdistan at national and international levels and oversees relations and coordination between the Region and the Iraqi federal authorities. He also represents the people of Kurdistan at Iraq’s Political Council for National Security, and in negotiations and consultations with other parties in Iraq.
He is responsible for approving the KRG Prime Minister’s special appointments and promotions, and for ratifying all laws passed by the Kurdistan Parliament. He has the power to return once only for further debate and amendment any law passed by the Parliament.
President Masoud Barzani
Masoud Barzani was elected President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the Kurdistan National Assembly in June 2005. He was born on the day that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) was founded, 16 August 1946. In his words, “I was born in the shadow of the Kurdistan flag in Mahabad (Iran) and I am ready to serve and die for that same flag.”
At the time of his birth, President Barzani’s father, the late Mustafa Barzani, was head of the military of the short-lived Kurdish Republic of Mahabad that was declared in Kurdistan of Iran. When the Republic fell, Mustafa Barzani fled to the USSR with five hundred devoted followers. When he returned to Iraq 12 years later, he, the rest of his family and thousands of members of the Barzani clan were promptly deported to the southern parts of the country.
An avid pupil, Mr. Barzani began his primary education at an early age and developed a love of books and learning. With the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958, the new Republic of General Abdulkarim Qasim welcomed Mustafa Barzani and his followers back to Iraq. Mr. Barzani was 12 years old when he was finally reunited with his father.
The family moved back to their home village of Barzan, where they found their homes in ruins. Soon afterwards the Iraqi government resumed its repression against the people of Kurdistan. With no alternative, in 1961 the KDP, under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani, launched an armed struggle to defend the rights of the people of the Region.
At the age of 16, Mr. Barzani sacrificed his education and joined the Peshmerga forces. The young Barzani was deeply influenced by the valor, leadership skills and compassion of his father. President Barzani’s experiences in the mountains of Kurdistan were to provide him with the skills that were to later propel him to the leadership of Kurdistan’s movement.
It was not long before the KDP leadership noticed the younger Barzani’s qualities, and he, together with his late, elder brother Idris, took part in the delegation that signed an autonomy agreement with Baghdad in March 1970. When the Iraqi government once again reneged on its pledges, the Kurdistan armed struggle resumed. Once again, Mr. Barzani took part at the side of his father.
After the death of Mustafa Barzani in March 1979, Masoud Barzani was elected as the new president of the KDP at the party’s 9th congress. Since then he has been re-elected as the KDP’s President in each successive congress.
He is married with eight children. He speaks Kurdish, Arabic and Persian and has an understanding of English.
For further information on the Kurdistan Region Presidency please see: www.krp.org