Masoud Barzani,KRG Leader - file photo
CAIRO – 11 August 2017: Egypt strongly rejects Kurdish independence vote scheduled to be held on Sept. 25, Egypt’s ambassador to Iraq Alaa Mousa said Thursday.
Egypt rejects holding a referendum over Kurdish independence from Iraq, Mousa said stressing Egypt’s support for Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.
In a press statement, Mousa was reported as saying, “Iraq’s power lies in its unity; we don’t accept any unilateral actions without coordination with the central government.”
“Any dispute between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should never derail countering terrorism,” Mousa added.
On June 6, Iraqi Kurdish officials have decided to hold an independence referendum on September 25. The decision was widely anticipated, since Masoud Barzani had explicitly promised an independence referendum once ISIS were defeated.
However, in an interview with “Al-Ahram” Thursday, former President of KRG Masoud Barzani said “Our capital Erbil has an Egyptian consulate, which we are so proud of along with its members who are seeking to promote bilateral relations. We hope for maintaining good relations all the time.”
“We have informed all countries’ representatives in the KR, including the Egyptian Consul General as well as official and unofficial representatives will be certainly invited from Cairo to observe the voting and support dialogue between us and Baghdad regarding this matter,’’ Barzani added.
“Great Egypt has a vital and leading role in the region. Furthermore, we always seek enhancing our ties with Egypt and his Excellency President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Surely,we will visit Egypt soon, God willing,” he continued.
“We have ties with Egypt historically since Mustafa Barzani arrived in Baghdad from Moscow via Cairo where he met President Nasser in 1958,’’he noted.
Trying to ease a long-running political row as the Kurds push for independence from Baghdad, President Masoud Barzani has called parliamentary and presidential elections for November. The elections will follow the independence referendum, a move that will strain Iraq's frayed federal unity and annoy neighbors Syria, Turkey and Iran, who also have sizable Kurdish populations.
The political developments are taking place as the Iraqi government forces push back Islamic State militants from territory in northern Iraq, a campaign in which Kurdish peshmerga forces have played a vital role.
The Kurdistan region last held a presidential election in 2009 and a parliamentary election in 2013. President Masoud Barzani won the 2009 poll but has said he will not stand again.
His term of office expired in 2013 and has been extended twice, during which time Kurdistan has suffered bouts of unrest and political disarray. The parliament has not met since October 2015.