Kurds stick with independence vote, 'never going back to Baghdad': Barzani

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2017 10:51 AM

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's Kurds will go ahead with a referendum on independence on Monday, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani told a news conference.

Iraq's Kurds will seek talks with the Shi'ite-led central government to implement the expected 'yes' outcome of the referendum, even if they take two years or more, he said.

"We will never go back to the failed partnership" with Baghdad, he said, adding Iraq has become a "theocratic, sectarian state" and not the democratic one that was supposed to be built after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Barzani dismissed the concern of Iraq's powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey that the vote could destabilize the region, committing to respecting the laws on international boundaries" and not seek to redraw region's borders.

"Only independence can reward the mothers of our martyrs," he said, reminding the international community of the role played by the Kurds in the war on Islamic State. "Only through independence we can secure our future."

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Toby Chopra)