Chaldean Catholic Lara Yussif Zara is the new mayor of Alqosh

A Catholic woman has been elected as the new mayor of Alqosh, a small town on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq.

Lara Yussif Zara was the unanimous choice of the municipal council last Thursday, defeating another candidate. The first woman to be mayor of Alqosh, she replaces another Chaldean Christian, Abdul Micha, who was dismissed after charges of corruption.

She becomes the first ever Christian woman to be elected mayor in Iraq, and the second woman to achieve such as position after Zekra Alwach, a Muslim, became mayor of Baghdad in 2015.

The Nineveh Plain is a troubled area. For three years Alqosh was near the border with territory occupied by ISIS. Now there are tensions in this largely Christian community over whether Christians and other minority groups should support moves by the government of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan for independence. It is hoped that Lara Zara, who graduated in economics and management in 2006, may be a unifying influence in the area.