New Iraqi Kurdish president’s cousin succeeds him as regional prime minister

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq’s Kurdish region named a cousin of its new president to succeed him as prime minister on Tuesday, keeping power in the hands of the family that has governed since the region gained partial self rule after dictator Saddam Hussein’s fall.

The new prime minister, Masrour Barzani, is a son of former president Masoud Barzani, who stepped down in 2017 after a failed independence bid. The regional presidency was vacant for more than 18 months until Masoud Barzani’s nephew Nechirvan Barzani was elevated from prime minister and sworn in on Monday.

The Barzani clan and their Kurdistan Democratic Party have ruled the semi-autonomous Kurdish region since Iraq’s constitution was set up following the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam in 2003.

They have shared power in the region with their main rivals, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which has appointed presidents for Iraq’s central government in Baghdad under a system designed to balance power among Iraq’s main ethnic and sectarian groups.

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