Iraqi Kurdistan Approves Independence Referendum Initial Date Despite US’ Calls

The High Electoral and Referendum Commission (IHEC) of Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday approved September 25 as a date of holding the referendum on the region’s independence from Iraq, senior assistant to Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani Hemin Hawrami said on Monday.

he move came after US State Secretary Rex Tillerson reportedly asked Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani in a telephone conversation to postpone holding the region’s independence referendum.

“Kurdistan election commission ratified and approved the referendum to be held on 25/9, Parliament & Presidential elections on 1/11. Big step,” Hawrami wrote on Twitter.

IHEC spokesman Sirvan Zirar told reporters that the residents of the region would be able to vote online, the Anadolu news agency reported.

On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the autonomous region of Kurdistan from Iraq on September 25, a decision which has been criticized by Baghdad.

The referendum is viewed by a number of regional and international officials as a threat to both Iraqi and international security.

Both Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition against Daesh terrorist group, and US special presidential envoy Brett McGurk said that the Kurdish authorities should not hold the referendum amid the anti-Daesh campaign in Iraq as it would destabilize the Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting in the region.

The Kurds, making up about 20 percent of the Iraqi population, have been seeking self-governance for decades. In 2005, Iraq’s Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region, run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.