UNAMI head Jan Kubis meets with Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani in Erbil on September 11. Photo: KRP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — President Masoud Barzani reiterated to Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) Jan Kubis that the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum will not be delayed and that the decision to hold the vote was taken “by the people of Kurdistan.”
Barzani expressed the action “is an exercise of a very natural right of the people of the Kurdistan Region and that the referendum will be held on time, as scheduled,” according to a readout from the presidency.
Kubis' office confirmed the meeting and explained the two discussed "notably the upcoming referendum," as well as the general political situation in Iraq.
"SRSG reiterated the UN view as regards the referendum and urged renewed efforts towards reaching an understanding between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all outstanding issues," read the brief UN statement.
Kubis, who is also Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), had briefed the UN Security Council on July 17 about the Kurdistan Region’s September 25 independence referendum.
He then called the looming electoral processes "complex" given the "the unstable security situation in the governorates of Ninawa, Anbar and Kirkuk" — areas where many people are displaced from their homes and Iraqi and Kurdish security forces continue to fight ISIS militants.
During Monday’s meeting Barzani, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, reiterated “the Kurdistan Region will continue to contribute to the stability of the region and that the referendum will not create any obstacles for the ongoing effort to rid the region and the world of the terrorists of the Islamic State.”
In July, Kubis also highlighted that two major political parties in the Kurdistan Region, the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), "have demanded" the reactivation of parliament ahead of the September 25th referendum.
"I further urge as a matter of priority, the reactivation of a functional democratic administration, notably the regional parliament as the primary democratic institution to ensure unity and the functioning of democracy in the region," Kubis stated.
Monday’s statement from Barzani’s office emphasized that the referendum is not being conducted unilaterally.
“President Barzani reiterated the position that the referendum of the Kurdistan Region is a decision that was taken by the people of Kurdistan and not it is not an individual or a political party decision,” the readout detailed.
A trilateral meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday between the major Kurdish political parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and Change Movement (Gorran), notably to discuss the reactivation of the Kurdistan parliament, which hasn’t met in two years.
Relations between the KDP and Gorran deteriorated in October 2015, mainly over the term of President Barzani, which expired in August but was extended in a controversial court ruling. The KDP blocked the parliament, chiefly its speaker who a Gorran member, and sacked Gorran ministers from the cabinet.