Nearly all Kurdish parties in the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday showed support for an anticipated public vote on Kurdistan Region’s independence from Iraq and called for the vote to also include Kirkuk province. The Kurdish opposition Change Movement (Gorran) boycotted the meeting in Kirkuk, where all Kurdish factions gathered on Monday to discuss the referendum, in protest against the two dominant Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Gorran representative Ahmed Aziz told Rudaw. No official deadline has been set for the referendum but according to the Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani the vote will take place before the end of 2017.
Lawmakers in the Kurdistan Parliament called on the international community to work towards the release of officials from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP). A number of lawmakers gathered in front of the Kurdistan Parliament’s office in Sulaimani on Wednesday (April 19) calling on the international community to intervene and help release the Kurdish parties’ officials in Turkey. Lawmaker from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Salar Mahmoud, said during a press conference that all the Kurdistan Parliament lawmakers support the release of the HDP and DBP officials. “We call on the international community so that the HDP and DBP [officials] are released”, Mahmoud said, adding that the release of the officials would help bring peace to Turkey.
Ali Awni, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leadership said the efforts are now concentrated on getting all the Kurdish sides to reach a consensus over the independence, noting that the referendum is a momentous move. Speaking to BasNews, Awni said a conclusive historic time is ahead the two major Kurdish parties, namely KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He argued that Kurds have lost hope in coexistence and partnership in Iraq. The official said the independence referendum has been discussed with all Iraqi factions and foreign envoys. “We have made our decision to hold a referendum, and this wish of Kurdistan people should be respected”, said the official. He added that “the KDP-PUK meetings will result in a referendum and then independence”.
The joint delegation met with Head of the Shia National Iraqi Alliance, Ammar al-Hakim, in Baghdad during a visit to the capital to meet Iraqi officials. Following the meeting, a delegation member, Adnan Mufti, told reporters that the delegation had discussed several issues between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region with the Shia National Iraqi Alliance, and commented on talk around a possible upcoming referendum regarding the independence of Kurdistan. “A referendum doesn’t directly mean independence. It is the Kurdish will to express an opinion about it”, Mufti said. “We want to discuss with Iraq to resolve the issues and the ways are open. We think our meetings were positive and we will continue”, he added. A leader of the Shia National Iraqi Alliance, Ali Alaq, said they aren’t against the Kurdistan Region and they listened to views around activating Article 140 of the Iraq Constitution in order to maintain security in Kirkuk and other areas. The delegation visited Baghdad to meet with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliament Speaker Salim alJabouri and other leaders to resolve issues between both sides as well as issues that have cropped up due to recent developments in Kirkuk.
The Kurdistan parliament is the only legitimate entity that should decide on conducting a referendum on independence of Kurdistan region of Iraq, the Gorran (Change) movement said in a statement released. The Gorran statement expressed concerns about the referendum being used by political parties as a screen to avoid addressing serious issues in the Region. “Taking steps towards Kurdistan independence should not be used as a means to avoid resolving the problems of Kurdish people and political auctions”. Instead, the party insisted that after conducting the referendum, practical steps must be taken to declare the independence of Kurdistan and providing the basics of a “citizenship state, legislation-oriented and national establishment”. The KDP and PUK formed a joint committee on Sunday to deal with the referendum issue, beginning with unifying political conversations through meetings with other political parties. The committee met the Islamic League (Komal), the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and the Kurdistan Communist Party in Erbil on Monday to begin work to remove barriers for the referendum, which is expected to be held this year. Gorran has refused to meet with the KDP-PUK joint committee.