Iraqi Kurdish parliament approves independence referendum

Posted September 17, 2017

Late last month, Kirkuk's provincial council - at a session boycotted by Turkmen and Arab members - voted to include the disputed province in a planned September 25 referendum on Kurdish regional independence.

The Kurdish region's parliament voted Friday evening to approve the holding of a controversial referendum on support for independence September 25, according to broadcasts of the session by local television.

"The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas", Sanders said.

"The UK calls on the Kurdistan Regional Government to seize this opportunity and to enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad". But Mohammed Haji Mahmud, a Kurdish official close to Barzani, said on Friday that President Barzani did not agree with the alternative as it did not provide a better alternative to replace the vote, only nine days from now.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas that the vote is planned to take in.

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Last month, Kirkuk's provincial council voted to join the referendum in a vote boycotted by Arabs and Turkmen in the multi-ethnic city after the Kurdish governor Najmaldin Karim called the vote. Iraq now eyes a full liberation of its western and northern territories from Daesh. It is also clear that the Kurdish region will not become independent on the day following the referendum.

"The referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside", he added.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Friday that Barzani's decision not to postpone the referendum was "very wrong".

The referendum has been opposed by Baghdad because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and would distract the ongoing fight against Islamic State militant group by Iraqi forces.

It was a dispute between Gorran and the KDP that caused the assembly to suspend its sessions in 2015. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad.