Kirkuk says Kurdish delegation to Baghdad represents province

Kirkuk said Sunday it is represented by a delegation from Kurdistan Region to Baghdad which will discuss the region’s independence from Iraq.

“The delegation visiting Baghdad represents all the people of Kurdistan, of which Kirkuk is a part. Whoever visits Baghdad from that delegation represents us.” Kirkuk governor Najmuddin Karim told reporters on Sunday.

“The people of Kirkuk welcome the September 25th referendum and will actively take part in it,” the governor said.

A delegation from Kurdistan’s council supervising the anticipated secession referendum is slated for a visit to Baghdad on Monday to discuss the step opposed by the Iraqi government and most of the political elite.

Baghdad and Erbil have disputed sovereignty over oil-rich Kirkuk. Local authorities in the province had stirred political tensions with Baghdad in March when they decided to raise Kurdistan’s flag alongside Iraqi ones.

Kurdistan had slated the non-binding independence poll for September 25th, and has, ever since, stressed it was not backtracking on the plan.

Baghdad regularly argued the move was untimely as the country struggles to drive out Islamic State militants who had taken over large areas of the country since 2014.

“The federal government will not partake, support or fund the referendum on the Kurdish region’s independence from Iraq,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said in a statement last in June.

Regional powers Turkey and Iran have also voiced opposition to the planned poll. The United Nations has urged Baghdad and Erbil to engage in dialogue on differences related to the referendum.

Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.

Source: Iraqi News

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