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Iraqi Kurdish parliament votes to hold independence referendum

17 September 2017

In June, Kurdish leaders announced a plan to hold a vote on Kurdistan's independence and scheduled it for September 25.

"The referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat Daesh and stabilize the liberated areas", it added. While providing no details on the alternative, he said he has presented it to Kurdish leaders.

His remarks followed a meeting in Erbil on Thursday with the United States envoy to the anti-ISIL campaign, Brett McGurk, who attempted to persuade the Kurdish leader to call off the referendum in exchange for a new diplomatic initiative to reach a deal between the Kurds and Baghdad.

The president underlined that importance of the issue, saying that Turkey has a 350-meter long border with Iraq and would therefore only the country's territorial integrity.

However, Kurdish officials say they will use it to pressure the Iraqi government in Baghdad to come to the negotiating table and formalize their independence bid.

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He said the premises had been only temporary but those running the school should nevertheless have followed safety requirements. He said it was the worst fire incident in the past two decades and they are trying to establish the cause of the incident.

Sixty-five members of parliament voted in favour of holding the referendum for the Kurdistan region.

Barzani's decision not to postpone the referendum was "very wrong", Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. Iraq's central government has rejected the polls as unconstitutional and illegal. But relations with Baghdad have grown strained in recent years over oil and the disputed areas.

On Thursday, the Baghdad parliament fired the governor of Kirkuk province, Najm Eddine Karim, over his provincial council's decision to take part in the non-binding referendum.

"Those assembled in parliament today think this is a lawful session, but this is unlawful", Birzu Majeed, the head of Gorran's parliamentary block, told a news conference held while parliament was in session.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. Supporters of the referendum argue Kurds deserve their own state after fighting IS and facing years of oppression at the hands of governments in Baghdad, including gassing and ethnic cleansing under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi Kurdish parliament votes to hold independence referendum