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Iraq Kurdistan independence referendum planned 1 juillet 2014

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient.
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BBC News (UK)                                                                                                                   Türkçe

1 July 2014

The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region has told the BBC he intends to hold a referendum on independence within months. Massoud Barzani said that Iraq was already « effectively partitioned ».

While the Kurds would play a part in a political solution to the crisis caused by jihadist-led Sunni Arab rebellion, independence was their right, he added.

Meanwhile, the first session of Iraq’s new parliament has been adjourned after deputies failed to elect a new speaker.

Acting Speaker Mahdi al-Hafez called off proceedings after most of the Sunni and Kurdish members of the House of Representatives did not return after a break, meaning there was not a quorum present.

It had been hoped they would discuss forming a unity government.

The current Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, is facing calls from his Sunni, Kurdish and Shia rivals to step down because of his handling of the crisis.

However, as the leader of the bloc that won the most votes in April’s elections, he has demanded the right to try to form a governing coalition.

Huge swathes of northern and western Iraq are now in the hands of Sunni rebels led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis). On Sunday, the al-Qaeda breakaway declared a caliphate in the territories under its control in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

The United Nations has said that at least 2,417 Iraqis, including 1,531 civilians, were killed in « acts of violence and terrorism » in Iraq last month, when Isis launched its offensive.

The death toll does not include fatalities in the western province of Anbar, where the Iraqi authorities say 244 civilians were killed in June.

In the past month, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have moved into previously disputed areas that have been abandoned by Iraqi security forces in the face of Isis’s advance, such as the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

« Everything that’s happened recently shows that it’s the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence, » Mr Barzani told the BBC.

« From now on, we won’t hide that that’s our goal. Iraq is effectively partitioned now. Are we supposed to stay in this tragic situation the country’s living? It’s not me who will decide on independence. It’s the people. We’ll hold a referendum and it’s a matter of months. »

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