Voters in Iraqi Kurdistan and the disputed areas under Kurdish control have started to cast their ballots on whether to split from the rest of Iraq and become an independent state, according to Kurdish media reports early on September 25.
Reports claimed that voters had been queuing for hours before polling stations opened at 0800 local time, according to Erbil-based Kurdish Rudaw TV.
The KRG’s ruling parties agreed on September 24 to include the disputed province of Kirkuk in the referendum on independence from Iraq. The announcement came on September 24, following a meeting between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
In a statement late on September 24, the Iraqi National Security Adviser, head of the popular mobilization, Faleh al-Fayadh confirmed that the federal government will assume all responsibility guaranteed by the Constitution to protect Iraqi territory and not to divide it.
He said, according to a statement to his media office, that "the referendum is a provocative action and break the historic frameworks between the Arabs and Kurds and will charge the sponsors of it a heavy price," stressing the importance of dialogue before the referendum and not after.
Related, the Sadrist protest committee last night postponed its planned demonstration set for September 25, seemingly recognising that the timetable clash with referendum day would not help their cause and would detract from their electoral focus. A new date is yet to be set.
(Image credit: Jan Kurdistani)