Rabat - More than three million Iraqi Kurds are expected to cast their votes in a referendum on independence from Iraq on Monday, across the country’s Kurdish region and its disputed territories.
Rabat – More than three million Iraqi Kurds are expected to cast their votes in a referendum on independence from Iraq on Monday, across the country’s Kurdish region and its disputed territories.
The referendum vote is taking place from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. local time at polling stations in the Kurdish region and territories in dispute with Iraq, according to the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission, which oversees the vote.
Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish region in Iraq, has already cast his vote.
On the eve of the referendum, Barzani said during a press conference in Erbil that although the path to the independence would be “risky,” the vote would be peaceful. “We are ready to pay any price to achieve independence,” he added.
Many Kurds see the referendum as a momentous step in a lifelong struggle for independence. However, the Iraqi central government is concerned over the vote, considering it a threat to the stability of the country.
Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, said on Sunday that “the referendum is unconstitutional. It threatens Iraq, peaceful coexistence among Iraqis and is a danger to the region,” reported British news outlet The Guardian.
He continued that the Iraqi state will take measures in order to “protect” the nation’s unity and Iraqi people.
The referendum has been criticized not only by the Iraqi central government, but also by some in the international community.
Turkey’s foreign ministry urged countries, especially the states in the region, not to acknowledge the vote and called on Iraq Kurdish leaders to renounce their “utopic goals,” saying they were endangering peace and stability for Iraq and the whole region.
Although the US represents a key ally of Iraq’s Kurds, Washington also warned Kurdistan
against holding the vote, in order to avoid political tensions that might “destabilize” the region amid the counter-terrorism operations against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).