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Barzani hopes for vote on Iraqi Kurdistan independence

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani ©AFP

President of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani has expressed hope that a vote would be held on the semi-autonomous northern region's secession from the mainland.

Barzani made the remarks on Wednesday in a congratulatory message for the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.  

"I hope to meet with representatives of political parties and groups in the region following Eid al-Fitr to discuss the possibility of holding a referendum on self-determination and to discuss relations between Erbil (the Iraqi Kurdistan's capital) and Baghdad in line with the national interests,” he said.

Barzani further called on the region’s political parties and groups to discuss means of "reaching an agreement on relations with the [Iraqi] federal government.”

Last month, the KRG president urged Kurdish political parties to take measures to form a united effort for a referendum on the autonomous region’s independence, saying "there is no loftier goal than the right to self-determination and independence.”

Barzani has repeatedly called for a secession vote, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has stressed the need for preserving the country’s territorial integrity.

The premier has also called on the Iraqi Kurdistan to scrap any plans for independence, arguing that the autonomous region could not do without the mainland.

Falling oil prices have severely hit the Kurdish region, which like the capital, Baghdad, heavily relies on oil income to provide the majority of its funds.

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