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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Kurdish Assembly Elects KDP Leader Barzani as President

June 13, 2005|From Associated Press

IRBIL, Iraq — The parliament in Iraq's Kurdistan region elected veteran guerrilla leader Massoud Barzani as president Sunday, touching off horn-honking celebrations by his supporters.

The 111-member assembly meeting in this northern city unanimously chose Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, for a four-year presidential term.

The Kurdish region comprises three northern provinces, Irbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniya, and has enjoyed autonomy since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The region is expected to retain a large degree of autonomy even after Iraq drafts its new constitution, which is scheduled to be put to a referendum this year.

A swearing-in ceremony was postponed until today because a sandstorm prevented Iraqi officials in Baghdad from flying to Irbil, about 200 miles north of the Iraqi capital.

Barzani was virtually guaranteed the presidency of the Kurdish region as part of an arrangement that delivered the Iraqi presidency to his onetime Kurdish rival Jalal Talabani.

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