Middle East News

Iraq’s Kurdistan Region to vote on independence in September

Iraq's Kurdistan region is set to hold a referendum on independence from Baghdad on September 25, and parliamentary and presidential elections on November 6

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region is set to hold a referendum on independence from Baghdad on September 25, media reported on Wednesday, June 7, a move likely to be strongly opposed by Baghdad.

According to a tweet from Hemin Hawrami, senior assistant to President Masoud Barzani, the question will be: The question is: Do you want an independent Kurdistan?

Parliamentary and presidential elections will follow on November 6. Political parties set the dates in a meeting chaired by Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.

The KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said on April 2 that an independence vote would be scheduled before the end of the year.

The Gorran and Komal parties did not attend the talks after repeatedly calling for the region’s parliament to be recalled in order to discuss the move.

The parliament has not met since October 2015 when security forces loyal to Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party prevented the speaker, a member of Gorran, from returning to the capital, Erbil.

However, Gorran will call for a Yes vote in the referendum, ARA News reported.

Barzani was elected president in 2005, and re-elected in 2009. In 2013, parliament extended his term for a further two years. His presidency officially ended on August 19, 2015 after parties failed to agree on extending it, but Barzani has continued in the role since.

The votes will include disputed areas currently controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga or claimed by the KRG including Kirkuk, Sinjar, Khanqin and Makhmor. These areas are not part of the autonomous region as agreed with Baghdad.

Many people in the area around Sinjar have called for it to become an autonomous region, a homeland for Yazidis.

On Tuesday, KRG Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari told Kurdistan24 that political parties linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will not be recognised by the KRG.

Sinjari said political parties must have permission from the KRG’s Ministry of Interior, and therefore the recently established Ezidi Freedom and Democracy Party (PADE) is illegal. Sinjar’s Ezidi Freedom and Democracy Movement (TEVDA) filed a request with Iraqi authorities to approve the formation of PADE.

Sinjar’s long-standing connection with both the PKK and the Syrian YPG, and – more importantly – control of its border with Syria, has made the area a complex geo-political problem.

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