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Obamas budskap smitter: I Kurdistan har en veteran brutt ut fra makteliten, KDP og PUK, og stiftet sin egen bevegelse – Goran! Forandring! Nawarashan Mustafa var lei av underutvikling på grunn av korrupsjon og favorisering. Hans budskap har fått en voldsom respons. Spørsmålet er: blir lørdagens valg rettferdig?

BBCs John Muir melder at Gorans valginspektører er utestengt fra valglokalene i Dohuk-provinsen.

Kurdere er fed up med at rikdommen tilhører de som er innenfor og tilhører maktstrukturene PUK og KDP har bygget opp: de deler alt mellom seg; jobber, posisjoner, penger, kontrakter.

Mustafa har sett det fra innsiden og vil ha en forandring. Kurdistan vil bli satt på prøve: om to år drar amerikanerne, da må det ha skjedd en avklaring med sentralmakten i Bagdad. Det store stridsspørsmålet er olje, og i den sammenheng: hvem kontrollerer Kirkuk.

Until two years ago, Mr Mustafa was part of the political and business establishment of the increasingly autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq. But frustration with the slow pace of development led him to attempt a popular takeover. In recent weeks he has rallied tens of thousands of people in public squares with promises of reform and prosperity.

The former peshmerga guerilla fighter said: «We are a political movement. We have no armed forces.» There have been scuffles but most of his gatherings have been peaceful. Nevertheless, tensions are high as he tries to take power from the two clans that have long ruled what residents uniformly call «Kurdistan».
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In the southern part of the mini-state, they have flocked to Mr Mustafa’s movement, known as Goran, or Change. At campaign rallies — the most lively and enthusiastic the Kurds have probably ever seen — they have plastered the movement’s orange-candle logo everywhere, on walls, buses, even on a herd of sheep.

«We think that Kurdish society, after a political stabilisation, now needs economic, social and cultural reforms,» Mr Mustafa told his supporters before polls opened. But this election is about much more than money. The next Kurdish president — the first to be popularly elected — will have to strike a grand political bargain with Baghdad over the future of Kurdistan before American troops leave for good in two years.

«The next government will have major challenges to face,» said Sammy Shourash, a former Kurdish culture minister.

Former guerrilla relies on popular appeal in bid to win Kurdistan