Iraqi Kurds vote in controversial independence referendum
Neighboring countries Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey have strongly objected to the referendum organized by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Baghdad said it will take all “necessary measures to preserve the unity of the country.”
Voting got underway at 8am local time and closed at 6pm. The final results should be known within 72 hours. The referendum, which is non-binding, is expected to deliver comprehensive backing for independence.
26 September 201703:19 GMT
The Syrian government rejects the Kurdish independence referendum in Northern Iraq, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has told RT, adding that Damascus is ready to negotiate greater autonomy with the Syrian Kurds.
“We categorically reject the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and stand for the unity of Iraq,” Muallem said, emphasizing that Syria is faced with a different situation with the Kurds on its territory.
“In Syria, they [Kurds] want to proclaim autonomy in one form or another within the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic. Negotiations and a dialogue are possible on the matter,” the diplomat added.
- 02:25 GMT
The Iraqi government will not hold talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) about the results of the "unconstitutional" referendum on independence held on Monday in northern Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said. "We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional," Abadi said in a speech broadcast on state TV on Monday night. Masoud Barzani's KRG says the referendum is not binding and was meant to be a legitimate mandate to negotiate with Baghdad and neighboring countries over the secession of the Kurdish-controlled region from Iraq.
25 September 201721:11 GMT
The US has called on Iraq to maintain its territorial integrity, as people in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan are holding a referendum on independence.
“We hope for a unified Iraq to annihilate ISIS [Islamic State], and certainly a unified Iraq to push back on Iran,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders told reporters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will respect the outcome of the referendum and noted that, as a Quebecer, he appreciated how other countries did not try to get involved in Quebec’s own independence referendums.
- 18:28 GMT
The United Nations has reiterated its concerns about the potentially destabilizing effect the Kurdish referendum could have on Iraq and the Middle East.
“The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise,” read a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
- 18:28 GMT
Kurds have been waving flags, setting off fireworks and chanting in the streets to celebrate the referendum on independence.
- 16:30 GMT
The referendum polls closed in most areas at 7:00pm local time after a one-hour extension, Rudaw TV reports, citing the electoral commission. Polls in Kirkuk closed at 6:00pm.
- 16:29 GMT
Polls across Iraqi Kurdistan have closed and counting ballots has now begun, Rudaw reports. Voting booths closed at 6pm local time in Kirkuk, and 7pm in most other areas after a one-hour extension.
Turnout was reported at 78 percent until 6pm across Iraqi Kurdistan, Rudaw reports citing the electoral commission.
- 15:06 GMT
The referendum turnout is 76 percent one hour before polling stations close, Kurdish Rudaw TV reported.
- 14:45 GMT
Kirkuk has declared an overnight curfew in the city following the independence referendum, Reuters reports citing a statement issued by the authorities of the Kurdish-led Iraqi governorate.
- 14:07 GMT