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Former KRG PM emerges to shake up Kurdish politics

The Kurdistan Region's independence referendum has opened the door for a new regional Kurdish movement promoted by a diverse coalition of dissidents, leftists, secularists and Islamists.
A Kurdish man sells banners supporting the referendum for independence for Kurdistan in Erbil, Iraq September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani - RC1E08DCE9A0

As referendum frenzy engulfs Iraqi Kurdistan, a prominent Iraqi Kurdish politician has been busy putting together a coalition of dissidents, leftists, secularists and Islamists in hopes of challenging the main ruling parties in the oil- and gas-rich region.

The new Coalition for Democracy and Justice, whose diverse members are campaigning for good governance and accountability, intends to challenge the political system, one of the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International. "The Kurdish leadership must work seriously to resolve the political, economic and governance crisis afflicting Kurdistan," wrote coalition head Barham Salih in the Financial Times in May. The British-educated politician, who spent a decade in Washington lobbying for the Kurdish cause, has good relations with the West and has held important positions, including deputy prime minister of Iraq and prime minister of the Kurdistan region.

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