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KRG leader rules out delay to referendum schedule

KRG leader rules out delay to referendum schedule

Massoud Barzani, President of the region of the Iraqi Kurdistan, has declared that in the absence of any counter-proposals from the global community, the referendum on independence, scheduled for Monday 25 September 2017, would definitely go ahead. Baghdad isn't alone in discouraging the Kurds from holding elections. The vote follows several decades of acrimony between Kurdish administrators and the federal government in Baghdad, acrimony that predates the US -led invasion in 2003. The online vote for Kurdish expatriates is open for three days.

The Syrian government hasn't commented on the Kurdish vote, but Kurdish officials see it as a step toward enshrining their project of a decentralized system - one they say hasn't faced the same objections as the Iraqi vote.

The council urged "dialogue and compromise" to address differences between the Iraqi government and the regional authorities.

The Turkish parliament on Saturday approved a one-year extension of an existing mandate to use Turkish troops overseas in Syria and Iraq, two days before Iraq's Kurdish region holds a controversial independence referendum, AFP reports.

"The referendum doesn't mean independence and they all know that".

Meanwhile, Bafel Talabani, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second largest party in Iraq's Kurdish region, announced on Facebook that his party had agreed the referendum should be "postponed" - though the post was deleted shortly after. " Inclusion of Kırkuk is "calamity" The prime minister did also criticize KRG for including oil-rich Kırkuk to the independence vote, describing the move as a "calamity".

While the Iraqi central government has repeatedly come out against the referendum, vowing not to recognize the results and even threatening military intervention if it goes forward, this has done little to deter the Kurdish political leadership.

Kurds, supporters of their right to their own state, and bitter opponents like the capitalist rulers in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey expect a vote for independence would pass overwhelmingly. The KRG, led by Massoud Barzani, plans to use the vote as a legitimate mandate to press for negotiations with Baghdad and neighboring countries to achieve independence.

"(Our fathers and mothers) think it's a betrayal not to vote "yes", said Muhammed, a researcher from Sulaimaniyah who is in his 30s.

"They praise Peshmerga sacrifices but don't let Peshmerga and our martyrs' families decide their destiny", he said as tens of thousands cheered and waved Kurdish flags.

A pro-Kurdish independence rally on the Kirkuk citadel, Iraq on September 19, 2017. And they have forged impressive fighting forces - the peshmerga in Iraq and the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria - that have been most effective in taking on the reactionary Islamic State in both countries. The planning and implementation of the referendum vote has been left to the local councils of the disputed regions.

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