Kurdish Barzani demands 'referendum alternative' within three days

Kurdish Barzani demands 'referendum alternative' within three days
Massoud Barzani has demanded an alternative to the referendum that would guarantee the rights of the Kurds to be presented within three days, days before the controversial vote.
2 min read
20 September, 2017
Barzani vowed to go ahead with the controversial referendum vote [Getty]

The Kurdish leader demanded that an alternative to the referendum be proposed by Baghdad within three days, as the controversial debate surrounding the fate of the northern Iraqi region continues to spiral.

Massoud Barzani said it would be impossible to postpone or cancel the September 25 referendum, as requested by the central government in Baghadad, without an alternative that guarantees the Kurds rights.

“If there is no real alternative in three days, it is impossible to postpone the referendum,” Barzani said in a pro-independence rally.

The Iraqi government, Iran, Turkey and Western powers strongly oppose holding a referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and have pleaded for the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq to settle its differences with Baghdad through negotiations rather than secession. The sole state backer of the vote is Israel.

Hours before Barzani's comments, a source in the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office said that a Kurdish delegation, expected to arrive in Baghdad to meet Prime Minister Haider Abadi, had postponed his visit for unknown reasons, the BBC reported.

The Iraqi prime minister is due to leave for New York later to attend the UN General Assembly.

The Kurdish delegation was expected to include Fouad Hussein, Rooz Nuri Sawish and Fayan Dakhil, for talks with Abadi on the subject of the referendum.

On Monday, Iraq's supreme court ordered the suspension of the referendum to examine whether such a poll would be constitutional.

"The supreme court has issued the order to suspend organising the referendum set for 25 September… until it examines the complaints it has received over this plebiscite being unconstitutional," it said in a statement.