Turkey, Iraq work together to prevent KRG referendum

Turkey, Iraq work together to prevent KRG referendum

Turkey, Iraq work together to prevent KRG referendum

The Parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region approved a plan to hold a referendum on independence on September 25, ignoring Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish opposition as well as U.S and Western concern that the vote could cause new conflicts in the region.

The region's vice-president Jaafar Aimenky, who chaired the session, announced the poll would go ahead after 65 out of 68 lawmakers present voted in favour.

It also called on the regional government "to seize this opportunity and to enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad".

The Kurdistan Regional Government, sitting for the first time in two years, backed the 25 September vote yesterday.

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it added.

Last Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers voted to remove Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim from his post based on a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Iraq now eyes a full liberation of its western and northern territories from Daesh.

Gorran, the main opposition movement to Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), boycotted the parliament session in Erbil.

Kirkuk - a province contested by Baghdad and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen - decided at the end of August to take part in the controversial referendum.

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Barzani criticized those claiming that referendum does not have legitimacy, saying "the referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan".

Barzani's decision not to postpone the referendum was "very wrong", Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday.

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.

Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the worldwide community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

Thursday, a senior USA official announced that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum.

The referendum is planned to be held in Kurdistan and disputed areas including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

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