Cairo, Erbil- The referendum on independence scheduled for September 25 in Iraq’s Kurdistan region was the main topic of discussion at the talks held by Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Baghdad and Erbil on Saturday.
Aboul Gheit spokesman said that the visit to Iraq is in search of a “compromise” between Baghdad and Erbil. On the other hand, a consultant in the presidency of the Kurdistan region said that the referendum will not be postponed without international guarantees.
Mahmoud Afifi, Spokesman for the Secretary-General of the League, said that Aboul Gheit’s visit was part of his diplomatic efforts to preserve the territorial integrity of the Arab League member state.
Afifi added that Aboul Gheit’s message to Baghdad and Erbil is the need to show the spirit of “compromise” and calm approach, and to adopt the principles of dialogue and adherence to the constitution.
Kurdistan’s leadership answers to all questions and advice of Aboul Gheit, stressing that the referendum will not be postponed unless there are “international guarantees written and signed by Baghdad and the United States and perhaps other parties,” Kurdistan presidency media adviser Kifah Mahmoud told Asharq Al-Awsat.
President Masoud Barzani told the visiting Arab League chief that it is not the decision of an individual to delay the referendum in response to a request from the head of the pan-Arab group for Kurdistan to postpone the vote “for a period of time” while talks are held between Erbil and Baghdad under the watch of the international community.
Barzani said the decision to hold the independence referendum belongs to the people and political parties of Kurdistan.
Barzani met with Aboul Gheit in the company of members of the High Referendum Council.
Aboul-Gheit arrived in Baghdad and met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to confirm AL’s keenness to preserve Iraq’s unity and revive dialogue between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region ahead of the latter’s independence referendum.
The AL chief urged Iraqi leaders to focus on “completing the liberation of Iraq’s territory and resorting to dialogue, as well as to abiding by the Iraqi constitution to resolve any problems,” according to a statement issued by Abadi’s office.
On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25, a step which has been criticized by Baghdad as “unconstitutional and illegal.”