Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani confirms intention to step down

Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has confirmed his intention to step down on November 1 in a letter to the parliament, Kurdish Rudaw TV reports. “I refuse to continue in the position of president of the region after November 1,” Barzani said in the letter, asking the MPs to fill the presidential power vacuum. The 71-year-old has been the Iraqi Kurdistan president since 2005, with calls for him to step down sounding after Iraqi government forces seized oilfields near the Kurdish city of Kirkuk earlier this month. Baghdad launched a military operation against the Kurds after the region voted for independence from Iraq in a referendum in September.