Massoud Barzani: Kurdish referendum will go ahead

President of Iraq’s Kurdish region Massoud Barzani says the planned referendum will be held next week despite international warnings.

“The referendum is no longer in my hands, nor is it in those of the (political) parties, it is in your hands,” he told a crowd of thousands in the regional capital of Erbil on Friday.

The controversial referendum on independence from the mainland is to take place on September 25.

Baghdad has condemned the plebiscite as unconstitutional, repeatedly calling on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to suspend the vote, which is planned to be held in three provinces that make up their region, as well as in disputed areas that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

“We say that we are ready for serious open-minded dialogue with Baghdad, but after September 25, because now it is too late,” Barzani said.
He said the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in partnership with the Iraqi military would “continue” despite the referendum.

The remarks come a day after the UN Security Council warned that the referendum was potentially “destabilizing” and threatened the ongoing war against Daesh.

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