Half of Sulaimani residents opt for dual administration in Kurdistan Region: Survey by US-based NGO

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – More than 51% of Sulaimani residents are opting for separate administration from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and support the establishment of the “Sulaimani Region,” according to a survey conducted by a US-based NGO in Sulaimani province last week.

The survey, involving 3,057 participants, was conducted by Press Freedom Project, a US-based NGO that aims to “create awareness about human suffering in Iraq and the Middle East.”

With the first step taken in Sulaimani, the NGO is currently conducting a series of surveys pertaining to the political situation in the provinces of the Kurdistan Region.

The “dire” economic conditions in Sulaimani

According to the results of the survey, 35% of respondents believe that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (locally known as Gorran) bear responsibility for the “dire economic condition” in Sulaimani and Halabja provinces, including the Garmiyan administration. However, 32% of them see the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as to blame.

The rest of the respondents, 33%, cited all three parties for the situation.

The dual administration and the Kurdistan Region

Among the topics covered in the survey are the formation of the Sulaimani Region and dual administration in the Kurdistan Region. This would divide the entire region into two distinct zones, referred to locally as the Yellow Zone (ruled by the KDP) and the Green Zone (ruled by the PUK).

More than half of the respondents, around 50.8%, voted for the establishment of the Sulaimani Region and the dual administration. In contrast, the rest voted the other way.

Sulaimani governor

In spite of the limited power of Kurdistan Region governors and the fact that they are required to return to the Ministry of Interior and the Council of Ministers for financial and strategic decisions, according to the results of the survey, citizens have higher expectations from the governors.

Dr. Haval Abubakir, governor of Sulaimani, was not favored by respondents, according to the survey. A mere 13% of them are happy with his performance, whereas 57% are unhappy. Even though 30% of voters felt he played an average role.

Freedom of expression

As the NGO’s goal essentially involves freedom of expression, it has put a lot of emphasis on the issue.

The survey found that 22% of respondents believe that freedom of expression has decreased in Sulaimani province since the death of former Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani.

In addition, the PUK’s internal problems have hindered freedom of expression. Over 40% of respondents believe that these internal issues have contributed to the decline in freedom of expression.

While 35% believe that Sulaimani’s freedom of expression has decreased under the leadership of Masrour Barzani’s ninth cabinet.

Despite these figures, 24% of respondents believe that freedom of expression in Sulaimani is in a “ satisfactory ” state, while 50% think that it is in an “unfavorable” state. The remaining 26% believe that the situation of freedom of expression is “moderate.”

Improving the condition of Sulaimani and Halabja

In the survey, respondents were asked which of six specific figures could improve the situation in Sulaimani and Halabja.

Bafel Talabani (PUK Leader), Masrour Barzani (KRG Prime Minister), Lahur Sheikh Jangi (former co-leader of the PUK), Omar Sayed Ali (General Coordinator of the Gorran Movement), Shaswar Abdulwahid (New Generation Leader) and Qubad Talabani (KRG Deputy Prime Minister) are the six candidates proposed for the poll.

The majority of votes were given to Bafel Talabani, Lahur Sheikh Jangi, and Shaswar Abdulwahid.

According to the results, 43% of respondents believe that Lahur Sheikh Jangi can improve the situation in Sulaimani and Halabja, meanwhile 19% think that Shaswar Abdulwahid could do so. In addition, 18% believe that Bafel Talabani can help improve the situation in Sulaimani and Halabja.

A further 16 percent of respondents do not believe any of these politicians will be able to improve the situation in the region.

A boycott tops the list

More than 57% of survey respondents indicated they would boycott the next election and were not ready to vote. As for the remaining 43%, they have expressed interest in participating.

Among those who are willing to participate in the elections, 25% will vote for the PUK and 25% for the New Generation Movement.

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