Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government Independent Supreme Election and Referendum Committee Speaker Sirvan Zirar delivers a speech in Erbil. He stated “Our committee decided by majority votes, referendum of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region will take place on 25th of September.”
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)’s Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission (IHEC) on Monday confirmed that a planned referendum on the secession of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region would be held on Sept. 25. “By a majority of votes, commission members voted to approve the KRG’s request to hold the referendum on Sept. 25,” IHEC spokesman Sirvan Zirar told reporters in Erbil, the KRG’s administrative capital.
Zirar said that residents of the region currently living abroad would be able to vote in the referendum online. He went on to note that the Kurdish region also planned to conduct both parliamentary and presidential elections on Nov. 1. The September referendum, which will be considered non-binding, will see the region’s residents vote on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. Baghdad, for its part, rejects the planned poll, saying it could adversely affect the region’s ongoing fight against the Daesh terrorist group. The Iraqi government also claims that the poll would violate Iraq’s 2005 constitution and would be “of no benefit — politically or economically — to the region’s Kurds”. Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, insisting that the region’s stability is inextricably linked to the maintenance of Iraq’s territorial integrity. The U.S., meanwhile, has likewise expressed concern that the referendum could serve as a “distraction” from other pressing regional issues — especially the fight against terrorism and the political stabilization of war-weary Iraq.