Iraqi Kurdish parliament approves independence referendum

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers on Friday approved holding an independence referendum on September 25 as members of the opposition boycotted the parliament's first session in two years.

Published: 16th September 2017 12:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 12:35 AM   |  A+A-

In this Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 photo, a man walks past a campaign poster printed on a Kurdish flag urging people to vote yes in the upcoming poll on independence from Iraq, Irbil, Iraq. | AP

By AFP

ARBIL: Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers on Friday approved holding a referendum on the independence of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on September 25 as opposition members boycotted the parliament's first session in two years.

The region's vice-president Jaafar Aimenky, who chaired the session, announced the poll would go ahead after 65 out of 68 lawmakers present voted in favour.

After the show of hands, lawmakers stood to sing the Kurdish anthem while others raised flags to the sound of applause.

Opposition parties Goran and Jamaa Islamiya earlier said they would boycott the session.

The 111-member parliament in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil had not convened for two years over disputes between political parties.

Neighbouring Turkey and Iran fear the referendum could stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.

Washington opposes the referendum on the grounds it would weaken joint Arab-Kurdish military operations which have helped to send the Islamic State group into retreat in both Iraq and Syria.

The United States has proposed unspecified "alternatives" to the poll. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has pledged to give a rapid response.

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