Last updated: 1 June, 2013

Iraqi president will be able to fulfil duties, says doctor

Iraq’s ailing President Jalal Talabani, who is being treated in Germany for a stroke, is recovering and will be able to fulfil his official duties upon his return, his doctor said on Saturday.

The remarks are likely aimed at quashing recent calls, in particular from Iraq’s chief prosecutor, for the president to be replaced as the country grapples with a political crisis analysts have linked to a sharp increase in violence.

“The German medical team which is following the health of President Talabani called us and assured us that the health of President Talabani is continuing to improve,” Najm al-Din Omar Karim, Talabani’s doctor and governor of the northern province of Kirkuk, said in a statement on the website of the president’s political bloc.

“The German medical team emphasised that President Talabani will be able to fulfil his duties when he comes back to the country.”

Talabani, 79, travelled to Germany in December after suffering a stroke, the latest in a series of health problems in recent years.

Karim’s remarks come barely two weeks after photographs were published of Talabani speaking to his doctors, showing his improved health, after Iraq’s chief prosecutor called for the head of state to be replaced.

The health of the veteran Kurdish former rebel leader has major political implications in Iraq, where he has played a prominent role in seeking reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Kurds and Arabs.