Five points related to the September 25 independence referendum have been approved by 65 out of 68 members of the Kurdistan parliament who attended Friday’s session:
First, Kurdistan’s parliament will task the High Elections and Referendum Commission to hold a referendum in the Kurdistan Region and all Kurdistani areas outside the Region’s administration on the question of independence for Kurdistan on Monday, September 25, 2017.
Second, Kurdistan’s parliament will approve all the mechanisms taken by the High Elections and Referendum Commission and all relevant parties to ensure the success of the referendum process.
Third, the High Elections and Referendum Commission will rely on the election law passed by Kurdistan’s parliament, Amended Law No. 1 of 1992, as well as the law passed by the High Elections and Referendum Commission, law No. 4 of 2014, and any other relevant laws with respect to the legal mechanisms designed for administering the referendum process for Kurdistan’s independence.
Fourth, Kurdistan’s parliament entitles relevant parties to pursue any other mechanism or decision to achieve the right of self-determination and all the other rights of Kurdistan’s nation and should return to Kurdistan’s parliament to deal with decisive questions, and tasks the High Elections and Referendum Commission to coordinate with these parties.
Fifth, the recommendations mentioned in the points outlined above concern the declared referendum set to be held on September 25, 2017.
Kurdistan parliament has approved the independence referendum to be held on September 25.
Sixty-five MPs voted for the Kurdistan Region to hold an independence referendum on September 25 in the Kurdistan Region and the disputed Kurdistani areas.
The parliament tasked the Kurdistan election body with holding the referendum and to coordinate with relevant parties to hold the historic vote.
The Kurdistan legislature’s decision comes just days after the Iraqi parliament voted against the referendum, calling it a “threat” against the unity of Iraq in a session on Tuesday and committed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take “all measures” to cancel the vote.
Speaking at a rally in Amedi earlier on Friday, Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani said in a defiant message that the people of Kurdistan do not take orders from such a parliament that has sidelined the Kurdish minority.
“We also tell them that your decision will not reach Kurdistan. So don't even bother,” Barzani said to the Iraqi parliament.
The US, UN, and UK presented an “alternative” to Barzani in a meeting on Thursday as they tried to persuade him to postpone the referendum.
Barzani said on Friday that no alternative has been offered that can replace the independence referendum.
Khalaf Ahmad, of the PUK, while debating the language of the referendum law, called on parliament to set a date for its next session, an indication that the parliament is back to work as normal.
Deputy Speaker Jafar Imniki gave reassurances that there will be future sessions, calling today's sitting the first of many to come.
The PUK’s Salar Mahmud objected to the procedures of the session, saying that many sections of the internal framework that regulate the parliament have been violated. Nevertheless, he said that it is time to discuss the prime issue for the meeting – the referendum.
Deputy Speaker Jafar Imniki said that some exceptions have been made to procedures since the session is vital, as has been done in the past.
Mohammed Saadadin, a Turkmen MP, reminded the meeting that the Iraqi constitution in the 1950s said Iraq consists only of Arab and Kurds without mention the Turkmen people. He said the rights of Turkmens have since been violated in Iraq. He expressed support for the independence vote as he said it will secure the rights of the Turkmen people. He spoke briefly in Turkmen language.
Muna Qahwachi, another Turkmen member, said that the Turkmen people have their rights protected in Kurdistan, unlike in Iraq. She called on the Turkmen people, especially in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, to vote for independence.
Sheikh Shamo, a Yezidi MP, was given the floor to speak on behalf of the Yezidis though he is not head of a parliamentary faction. He said the Yezidis have suffered genocide many times because they speak their language and practice their religion.
Yezidi areas such as Shingal are located in the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad. Shamo said that only the independence vote will determine the fate of their areas.
Yarwanet Batrusm, an Armenian member of parliament, spoke for the first time in parliament is his native language, saying he did so because Kurdistan is about to found an independent state. He said the experience of the Armenians and the Jews is that once these nations established their own state, they did not again suffer genocide.
Wahida Yaqu Hiirmiz, a Christian member of parliament spoke in Assyrian. She expressed support for the independence vote, stressing that they have presented a list of demands to the Kurdistan High Referendum Council to secure their rights in an independent state.
Bapir Kaka Mala, from Arastay Seyam or Third Direction, with one seat in parliament, said efforts must be made once more to bring both Komal and Gorran to the parliament. He said this will help fight the biggest threat to the Kurdish nation, which is “lack of unity.”
Abu Karwan, head of the Communist Party faction with one seat in parliament, lamented the fact that parliament has not convene since October 2015 because of unnecessary political rivalry between the Kurdish parties. He said he hopes “lessons have been learned.”
He called for cancelling the salary cut system, something he said was done “by force” by the Kurdish government overstepping the exclusive powers of the parliament.
Karwan said that lack of a constitution in Kurdistan is one of the main reasons behind the past problems.
He called for the general election to take place as scheduled on November 1.
Abubakir Haladni, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), described the decision to close down the parliament two years ago a “big mistake,” something he said his party was least responsible for. He apologized to the Kurdish nation on behalf of his faction for failing to have a functioning parliament for the last two years.
He also supported the process of the independence vote, saying they should try to seek international recognition.
He said the vote needs a “legal” cover that has been secured by reopening the parliament, adding that the Kurdistan parliament, if needed, should be ready to postpone the vote. He said the vote also needs political unity among all Kurdish parties.
Haladni noted that the Kurdistan nation has been able to secure their rights when united, but lost them when divided.
He called the Iraqi parliament's votes rejecting the referendum and sacking Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim “chauvinist” and approved by those united in their opposition to Kurdistan.
Dler Mawati, speaking on behalf of the PUK faction, said that he supports the contents of the proposed draft law that calls for holding the independence vote on September 25.
He said they worked tirelessly in order that the important decision to hold the referendum could receive a mandate from a “legitimate” institution such as the parliament. He said their party has, since its foundation, upheld the right to self-determination.
He noted the difficult financial situation the people of Kurdistan have faced, adding that his party emphasizes the implementation of a seven-point project they presented to all major Kurdish parties.
He expressed his hope that both Komal and Gorran will soon join the parliament.
Omed Khoshnaw, head of the KDP faction, called the referendum a “message of peace” from the people of Kurdistan to Baghdad and Kurdistan’s neighbours. He said the vote will achieve for the Kurds what they have been denied for 100 years.
“We, from the KDP, believe that except for independence,” there is no other way to give the people of Kurdistan a guarantee that genocide will never be repeated.
“Founding a state is not a threat, lack of it is,” Khoshnaw noted.
He also called for dialogue and further talks to seek a solution to all problems. He thanked the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS for their help to Kurdistan and also those countries who established the No-Fly zone in 1991 after the first Gulf War.
Deputy Speaker Jafar Imniki said language used by the Iraqi parliament voting this week against the referendum is helpful only to extremist groups such as ISIS. He called for dialogue between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments.
Imniki opened the floor for representatives from each faction to share their views on the referendum, adding he understands there is “political consensus” on the vote.
Newly elected secretary Begard Talabani called the referendum a “national” matter. She read a draft law assigning the Kurdistan election body to hold a referendum on September 25 in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas. The draft also includes ratification of all procedures and decisions made by the High Referendum Council and related bodies since June with regard to the referendum.
Deputy Speaker Jafar Imniki called the “extraordinary” session that began with the national anthem.
PUK MP Begard Talabani was elected secretary of the parliament after the former secretary from Komal did not attend the session as his party has boycotted the sitting.
Imniki praised the Peshmerga and those who lost their lives for the protection of Kurdistan.
He said Friday’s session is a new beginning for “normal” sessions to resume and expressed his hope that colleagues from Gorran and Komal, who have boycotted the session, will join the reactivated parliament.
Sixty-eight MP's have attended parliament Friday evening, by the parliament's official count.
MPs from the three main parties of the Kurdistan Region plus minorities except for one MP from Iraqi Turkmen Party made their way to the first session of the parliament in two years.
They are expected to vote on approving the Kurdistan independence referendum for September 25.
The parliamentary faction of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) stated at a press conference that they will take part in the session while saying that they respect their colleagues who have decided to boycott it.
Abubakir Haladni, speaking on behalf of the faction, said that today’s session should not be considered the “end of the world” as he called for further talks to bring Gorran and Komal on board.
He said they agreed with other Kurdish parties, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on a number of demands, such as the reactivation of the parliament “with all its powers,” holding referendum in the Kurdistan Region and disputed or Kurdistani areas. He also expressed support for cancelling the salary cuts for public employees introduced by the government as part of austerity measures, inclusion of people in disputed areas in the next general elections, and fighting corruption.
He said that their party’s stance is for the sake of the public good and warned that if their stated demands are not met, they will take a different stance.
Earlier in the day, parliament’s deputy speaker Jafar Imniki, a KDP member, held a meeting with the heads of parliamentary factions who will attended the session to approve the independence referendum.
President Masoud Barzani, speaking Friday evening at a rally for independence, said that they have not received an alternative that can take the place of the referendum and therefore will not postpone the vote.
Rudaw has obtained the list of recommendations that will be presented to MPs to consider for approval when they convene at 7:00 pm in a session headed by Deputy Speaker Jafar Imniki.
They include assigning Kurdistan’s election body to hold a referendum on Monday, September 25, 2017 in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas. It also includes ratifying all procedures and decisions made by the High Referendum Council and related bodies since June with regard to the referendum.
Some MPs have already arrived at the parliament building, some wearing Kurdish clothes, an indication of a patriotic atmosphere in advance of voting on the referendum issue.
About six of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) 18 MPs may not attend the session. Some are not attending because of their political views, including Farhad Sangawi, a member of the “No For Now” campaign against the referendum. Others are out of the country.
The PUK, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), plus the minority seats that include Turkmen and Christians have all decided to attend the meeting.
Gorran and Komal, two parties who have not yet supported holding the referendum at this time, have said they will not attend today’s session because believe parliamentary procedures convening the legislature have been breached.
Hemin Hawrami, senior assistant to the Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, stated that the Referendum Council have approved the official logo for "Yes" campaign.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan's second largest party has decided to boycott the parliament session set for Friday evening, citing a breach of legal procedures leading up to the session, Shorsh Haji, a senior Gorran member told Rudaw Friday.
The Islamic Group (Komal) also decided to boycott the meeting.
Marwan Galali, the head of Komal’s parliament faction, stated that they have decided to boycott the parliament session for “today” because the parties in Kurdistan have not yet agreed to future roadmap and mechanisms.
He also said that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have decided on the agenda “where in fact it is the duty of the presidency of the parliament” to do so.
The presidency includes the parliament speaker, a Gorran member, his deputy from the KDP, and the secretary, from Komal.
Parliament deputy speaker Jafar Imniki told Rudaw that he is going to head the session today, and the meeting will be in support of the Kurdish referendum set for September 25.
He added that the at the meeting a secretary for the parliament will also be elected.
Imniki had earlier told Rudaw that the session could be headed by “the deputy parliament speaker or the oldest MP, but it is more likely for the deputy speaker to lead as per Article 18 of the parliament bylaws in case Gorran does not attend.”
Gorran and Komal have been very clear that their decision applies only to today’s session. They have yet to decide whether they will support the reactivation of the parliament if their demands for a “legal” session met.
The Kurdistan parliament is set to reconvene today for the first time in two years with the Kurdish independence referendum at the top of the agenda.
The session will go ahead as scheduled unless otherwise stated.
The parliamentary faction of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said that they have secured enough signatures to call for a Friday evening meeting. The parliament deputy speaker, also from the KDP, has sent out official invitations to the members of parliament to attend the meeting.
Tariq Jawhar, a media advisor to the Kurdish parliament, told his party’s PUK media Friday that the meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time. Although, he said the agenda of the meeting is not clear as of yet. He expected that the Kurdish parliament will discuss the Kurdish referendum, and also a vote by the Iraqi parliament on Tuesday that rejected Kurdistan's independence referendum.
The legislature was scheduled to meet on Thursday, but was delayed. The KDP said it was because there should be a time lapse of 48 hours between the call to convene and the actual session. While a Gorran member said it was at their request so that they have enough time to make a final decision.
Gorran held one final meeting on Friday afternoon after it held a meeting on Wednesday and another on Thursday without making a final decision. Sbeiy, an official media outlet of the party, stated earlier that Gorran would make the final decision regarding the Kurdish referendum and the issue of the reactivation of the parliament.
Komal leadership also held a meeting, their media reported earlier, to discuss the issue of the parliament and the referendum with its parliament faction.
The US Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, among others, met with officials from Gorran and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to encourage the reactivation of the parliament while on a visit to the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday and Thursday.
Amina Zaki, from the KDP faction, told Rudaw on Thursday that they have collected enough signatures from the MPs so that a majority vote can ratify Kurdish plans to hold the referendum on its stated time of September 25.
Begard Talabani, head of the PUK faction in parliament, told Rudaw on Thursday that her party is focused to convince all parties of the Kurdistan Region to attend the first session.
There have been many bilateral and trilateral meetings since last Friday between the major Kurdish parties, as well with foreign officials with all focused on the issue of reactivation of the parliament that has not convened since October 2015 because of tensions between the KDP and Gorran, mainly because of the term of President Masoud Barzani, from the KDP, who has stayed in power beyond his term since 2015.
Tuesday’s trilateral meeting between the PUK, Gorran, and the KDP — the first of its kind in two years — resulted in an agreement in principle to reactivate the parliament. They were planning to meet the day after, or at the latest on Thursday to make a final announcement following their agreement. But it never materialized, mainly because Gorran has held internal talks over the issue of parliament. The party has said in clear terms that they seek guarantees so that the KDP or any other party is not allowed to close the Kurdish legislative body again in the same manner as 2015.
McGurk, the US envoy, together with the representatives of the United Nations and the United Kingdom, also met with President Masoud Barzani in Duhok Thursday as they presented an “alternative” in place of the Kurdish vote on independence set for September 25, only 10 days from now.
Barzani said they received the alternative which will be studied by the top leadership of the Kurdistan Region very soon, and then they make their view clear to the people of Kurdistan and the three foreign parties. He added that any alternative should secure the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence from Iraq, explaining that they accept an alternative only when it provides the Kurds with a “better and more guaranteed” tool to achieve their ultimate objective — independence.
Almost all Kurdish parties are of the view that the parliament is the highest and right institution in the Kurdistan Region that has the power to call for the referendum.
The current schedule, also backed by the Kurdish president and the Kurdish election body, was set in a June meeting between all parties of the Kurdistan Region except for Gorran and Komal.
The parliament speaker Yousif Mohammed, from Gorran, has not been able to enter the parliament’s headquarters in Erbil since 2015 when the security forces, largely under the control of the KDP, blocked his access to the Kurdish capital following tensions between the two parties.