ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- The former deputy head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) says he will run for the group’s top post during the party convention that got underway on Tuesday.
“I will run for the position of Kurdistan Islamic Union’s secretary general,” Hadi Ali told Rudaw in his first such public statement.
The announcement came despite a decision by the party’s leadership that those who planned to run for the position should not declare their intentions before the convention.
Ali resigned from the KIU in 2010 after alleged disagreements with current party chief Salahaddin Bahaddin. The KIU is Iraqi Kurdistan’s largest Islamic party.
Its ideology is heavily influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the standard bearer of pro-Islamic politics in the Middle East for decades.
Bahaddin, attracted media attention recently when he said he would not run for his current position at the convention.
His decision was seen as groundbreaking by many as he is the first head of a major Iraqi Kurdish political organization to voluntarily resign from his post. He has been the party’s chief since 1994.
Among the most prominent candidates who might replace Bahaddin are Hadi Ali, Mohammed Faraj, Mohammed Rauf, Mohammed Ahmed and Mawlud Bawa Murad.
Apart from Ali, the other candidates currently occupy senior positions within the party.
Founded in 1994, the KIU currently holds six seats in the 111-member Kurdish Parliament and five in Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad.
The party has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years as demonstrated by the increase in its number of votes from the 2005 Iraqi parliamentary elections to the Kurdish elections of 2009 and Iraqi elections of 2010.
Speaking to Rudaw, Mawlud Bawa Murad said those intending to run for the party’s head do not need to campaign for votes as the candidates are all well-known among the group’s members.
Murad did not explicitly confirm to Rudaw that he would run for KIU’s top position.
Commenting on earlier reports that the candidate backed by the outgoing head would have the best chance of becoming the party’s new chief, Murad said Bahaddin had decided “not to support any candidate.”
More than 750 KIU delegates will participate in the party’s sixth convention in Erbil.
Most of the delegates come from Sulaimani, raising concerns that KIU members from that province will dominate the party.
Murad ruled out such an outcome, saying there will be an effort to pass a resolution at the convention so that no strategic decision can be made without the consent of two-thirds of the party’s leadership members.
Among the changes suggested for the party’s statute is a resolution that no KIU member can become the head of the party or a member of its politburo for more than two terms.
Murad said Bahaddin will not have any active role in the party for a while.
At the convention, the KIU is also expected to decide on separating its political and Islamic missionary functions.
“We are going to open two bureaus -- one for missionary work and another for political work,” Muard told Rudaw.