Arbil: Regional lawmakers elected Nechirvan Barzani as president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a spokesman for the regional parliament said on Tuesday.

Barzani, a leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) who had been serving as regional prime minister, won 68 votes from the 81 lawmakers present. The regional legislature has 111 seats in total.

He is the nephew of the previous and only other holder of the office, Masoud Barzani.

However, the proceedings were boycotted by the region’s second-biggest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and two small parties, because of a rift between the main political forces in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The two parties are at odds over several key positions in the regional government.

The PUK wants to split key regional posts among the parties.

It also wants a clear power-sharing agreement with the KDP.

“Kurdistan Democratic Party must not sideline or marginalise other political partners and insist on taking unilateral decisions,” said PUK spokesman Shaikh Omar.

The KDP’s historical rival and junior coalition partner in government, the PUK took second place with 21 seats in last year’s parliamentary election.

In December, the KDP nominated Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Masoud Barzani as president of Iraqi Kurdistan. It nominated Masoud Barzani’s son Masrour as premier of the regional government.

Masrour Barzani is currently Iraqi Kurdistan’s security chief. Both Masrour and Nechirvan have occupied senior roles in the Kurdistan region throughout the last decade.

Nechirvan Barzani is expected to nominate Masrour Barzani to succeed him as a regional prime minister.