Kurdistan intends to hold a referendum on independence this year. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A senior leader of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said they are determined to hold an independence referendum this year and there is no turning back. He said they are waiting for the political parties to send their representatives to a committee tasked with overseeing the process.
“It is a decision made and there is no turning back because not only in the Kurdistan Region, but also in the [UN] Security Council this question is being talked about,” Hosiyar Zebari, a politburo member of the KDP, told Rudaw.
Briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Iraq on Monday, special envoy Jan Kubis said Kurdish leaders had declared their intention to hold a referendum in 2017 “to show the world the will of the people rather than to immediately declare independence.”
Zebari confirmed that the vote will be held this year and said that the parties should discuss the timeline through the referendum committee.
The KDP has appointed its representatives for the committee and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) will appoint one soon, Zebari said.
The committee, however, has not been finalized yet due to major political differences, especially between the KDP and the Change Movement (Gorran).
Gorran refused to meet with a joint committee established by the KDP and PUK in April to begin referendum preparations.
The referendum committee is to consist of seven political parties, the five major Kurdish parties – KDP, PUK, Gorran and the two Islamic parties, plus two seats reserved for the Turkmen and Christian minorities.
Along with Gorran, the Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group (Komal) — all members of the Kurdish coalition government — have repeatedly said in the past that they are in favor of the referendum, but it must have a mandate from the parliament. The PUK has echoed the call. The KDP has resisted, arguing instead that a mandate from the Kurdish legislature is not necessary.