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Iraqi President: ‘Kurdistan’s Referendum Does Not Mean Independence’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President of Iraq and a veteran Kurdish politician Fuad Masum. AFP

Baghdad- Iraqi President Fuad Masum said Tuesday that a planned referendum on the proposed secession of the northern Kurdish region from Iraq does not amount to a “declaration of independence.”

“Holding a referendum based on mutual understanding does not amount to a declaration of independence per se,” Masum declared.

He also called for disputes between Baghdad and Erbil to be resolved through dialogue.

“Iraq’s central government and the Kurdish region should look to the Iraqi constitution with a view to finding a middle ground,” said Masum, noting that Article 140 of the Constitution is devoted specifically to “disputed territories.”

A statement issued by the presidency said that Masum called on friendly and brotherly countries to double their support and solidarity with the Iraqi people in their ambitious plans and projects, whether the private ones regarding the reconstruction of destroyed and liberated areas and development of services and structures throughout the country or those related to the return of displaced people to their cities and villages.

For his part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi underscored serious opposition to Kurdistan region’s bid to arrange a referendum for independence, describing it as illegal and a big mistake.

“The referendum for independence of the Kurdistan region is a very big mistake, which is not legal and will bear no positive results and instead will add to the existing problems and therefore, we are strongly opposed to it,” Abadi said.

Stressing that the Iraqi officials should move in line with people’s interests, he said that “separating from Iraq’s integrated government will not be to the benefit of our Kurdish citizens.”

In response to a question on Barzani’s referendum plan in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki said the initiative is illegal and goes against the Iraqi constitution.

“The autonomous region is looking for advantages unaware of the fact that Kurds will suffer the most from the referendum which will only compound existing difficulties,” he continued.

He said that although regional conditions are now in favor of local nations, ending ongoing crises still proves difficult since enemies are after splits and disaccords.