Kurdish referendum will not be granted global legitimacy

Kurdish men march in support of the independence referendum carrying

Lawmakers in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region have approved a plan to stage an independence referendum that is opposed by Baghdad and neighboring countries and has raised Western concerns that the vote could stoke fresh tensions in the region.

The Kurdish region's parliament voted Friday evening to approve the holding of a controversial referendum on support for independence September 25, according to broadcasts of the session by local television.

The White House urged the KRG to "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad", over the issue.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, sitting for the first time in two years, backed the 25 September vote yesterday.

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Mr Barzani was adamant that the vote would not be delayed.

Last Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers voted to remove Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim from his post based on a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The Kurdish Peshmerga have said that they will continue their contribution to the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS including with the Iraqi forces despite the vote later this month.

"As a result, the people of Kurdistan will be given the chance to decide in a binding referendum and in a democratic process if they want independence or to remain as part of Iraq". It is also clear that the Kurdish region will not become independent on the day following the referendum.

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Ankara, which has warned the referendum would come at a "cost", has close economic and political relations with the KRG and Barzani.

Barzani's decision not to postpone the referendum was "very wrong", Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians.

Analysts say the referendum is unlikely to lead to an immediate declaration of independence and is designed, for now, to bolster the Kurds' bargaining position with Baghdad over disputed territories, shared oil revenues and greater autonomy.

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Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the global community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters.

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