Muhammad Fuad Masum of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party was elected as the seventh President of Iraq on 24 July 2014. He was elected with overwhelming majority by the Council of Representatives of Iraq (Iraqi Parliament) in Baghdad. He won 211 votes as against 17 votes won by Judge Hussein al-Musawi in the second round of voting.
Masum is the second non-Arab President of Iraq after Jalal Talabani who founded the PUK party and is the incumbent President of Iraq.
In the first round of voting, out of four presidential candidates Fuad had won 175 votes. But it was short of the 218 absolute-majority required for the president in the first vote. The other presidential candidates Hanan al-Fatlawi, Faiq al-Sheikh Ali and Hussein al-Musawi shared the remaining seats.
As a result, the other two presidential candidates Hanan al-Fatlawi and Faiq al-Sheikh Ali withdrew from the elections leaving the second round of voting a ceremonial contest between Fuad Masum and Hussein al-Musawi who had challenged the incumbent President Talabani in 2010.
What lies ahead?
Fuad Masum election as the President would pave the way for much-delayed formation of a new government in Iraq. Iraq is now actually ahead of the constitutional timeline for forming its next government. But the potentially most problematic task of identifying the largest bloc in the Parliament and nominating Prime Minister remain for which Masum has only got 14 days.
On the one hand, the pan-Shiite alliance has declared itself the largest bloc repeatedly but it has to agree on a Prime Minister candidate. As long as it does not have an agreed PM candidate it doesn’t exist in a way that is interesting to the Iraqi government formation. On the other hand, The State of Law bloc of PM Maliki – whose candidate is Maliki – is the biggest bloc. Unless a PM candidate emerges, Maliki could legitimately complain to the federal Supreme Court that Masum is wasting his time with a non-existent political alliance.
Further, while forming the next government it has to be seen that it is inclusive. This is because on pretext of this only ISIS has gone for a rampage in Iraq alleging that Nuri-al-Maliki government was discriminating against Shias and Kurds. This has brought Iraq to a near collapse. In fact, after the Fuad election as President, the UN chief Ban ki-Moon met current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and stressed the need for a broad-based government to be formed as soon as possible to save the country from collapse.
About Fuad Masum
• After the 1991 Kurdistan Regional uprising, Masum became the first Prime Minister of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and served at the position for more than two decades
• In 1976, he was a founding member of PUK in the Syrian capital of Damascus
• He was born in 1938 in the town of Koya, east of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan
When: on 24 July 2014