Lahur Talabany, co-chair of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was expelled from the party on Tuesday, according to a leadership member. Talabany, who was sidelined in July, had issued a statement criticizing the path the party has taken and its loss of votes in the recent election, and called for a meeting of the leadership in order to resolve an internal power struggle.
“So far the decision is like that, like an expulsion,” Ghazi Kirkuki, a member of the PUK leadership in Kirkuk, told Rudaw’s Fuad Rahimi. The Leadership Council has given Bafel Talabani power to “take measures,” he added.
Bafel Talabani, co-chair of the PUK, cut Lahur Talabany out of the PUK’s halls of power in early July when he changed the head of the party’s intelligence agency and counter-terrorism units who were affiliated with Lahur Talabany and replaced them with people loyal to himself, saying the shake-up was needed to combat corruption. Lahur Talabany denied the accusations made against him.
In a video message in Facebook on Tuesday, Lahur Talabany criticized the party’s performance in Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election and the path the party has taken.
“At this time, all projects of the PUK from statements, strategy, efforts on the case of the constitution, decentralization, and the PUK’s leadership in parliament, as well as in all governmental areas have been compromised,” he said.
“The serious question that needs to be asked is; why does the PUK exist? The new PUK is devoid of strategies, programs, and projects. Currently, the PUK does not own any issue, strategy, statement, or projects,” he added.
After Lahur Talabany was forced out, Bafel Talabani claimed he had been poisoned by people close to his rival. Mala Bakhtiar, a senior official PUK and father-in-law to Bafel Talabani, also claimed this week that he had been poisoned and is receiving treatment in Germany. On Monday, he blamed “comrades” for the poisoning without naming anyone.
Lahur Talabany said the party must “avoid these accusations” and called on the Leadership Council to convene in the near future in order to resolve the rift, saying “If there is an issue within the party, then that must be resolved through the party’s official organs.”
Kirkuki said the decision to expel Lahur Talabany “was made by the majority, not by an individual.”
There are reports that four other PUK members, some of whom did poorly in the election, were also ejected from the party. A source within the party identified them as Shadman Mala Hassan, Ala Talabani, Zhino Mohammed, and Aras Sheikh Jangi.
“There are rewards and punishments after elections, it looks like some friends get rewarded for doing good work, and some friends were punished,” said Kirkuki. The PUK now has to “reorganize itself to win back our supporters,” he added.
Lahur Talabany also warned that the PUK needs to be strong ahead of Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections. Without naming the party, he said the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) “has taken away the credibility of our institutions and has taken over the resources of this nation and become a burden for this nation and will in the upcoming elections, obtain a majority by fraudulent votes and will voluntarily play with the fate of our people under a regional agenda.”
The KDP did well in the Iraqi election, increasing its seats from 25 to 33, while the PUK took 16 seats, two less than in the outgoing parliament. The KDP also holds the largest share of seats in the Kurdistan parliament and dominates the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).