Iraqi-Kurdish leader delays crucial news conference on independence vote

Iraqi-Kurdish leader delays crucial news conference on independence vote
President Massoud Barzani has cancelled a crucial press conference, as tensions over a vote on Kurdish independence heighten.
2 min read
23 September, 2017
Barzani has been urged to suspend the upcoming referendum [Anadolu]
Iraqi-Kurdish President Massoud Barzani delayed an anticipated news conference on Erbil's controversial independence referendum as world powers call for its postponement.

It comes after Erbil's neigbours nad allies all stepped up their opposition to the referendum, throwing into doubt whether the vote will go ahead on Monday as planned.

"The news conference will take place on Sunday and the time and venue will be announced later," Barzani's office said without elaborating.

The Iraqi-Kurdish leader insisted on Friday the vote would go ahead, despite the UN Security Council warning it could be "potentially destabilising".

"The referendum is no longer in my hands, nor is it in those of the (political) parties - it is in your hands," Barzani told a large crowd in Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Officials and diplomats ares till trying to persuade Barzani to postpone the referendum, according to officials close to the discussions told AFP.

Iran and Turkey both fear the impact of the vote on their own restless and sizeable Kurdish populations.

The Baghdad government is also opposed to the referendum, which has been deemed "unconstitutional" by the Supreme Court.

The UN Security Council called this week for "dialogue and compromise" to end tensions.

It also fears the impact the vote could have on the war against the Islamic State group, despite Baghdad and Erbil forces all but defeating the force in Iraq. Security experts fear further turmoil will allow IS to regroup.