ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) has granted six million US dollars to the Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission (IHERC) as an initial budget to hold preparations for independence referendum scheduled for Sep, 25, 2017, a spokesperson said on Monday.
Shirwan Zirar, spokesperson for the IHERC, told Kurdistan24 that the Commission has already begun preparations for the independence referendum.
“The Commission has already received USD $6 million from the Kurdistan Region Presidency as an initial budget for organizing the referendum,” he said.
A source within the Commission also revealed that the total cost of the referendum could reach USD $20 million and that the full budget would be transferred to IHERC at a later time.
Recently, Handren Mohammad, head of the IHERC, told Kurdistan24 that their data suggests six to seven million people will be eligible to participate in the referendum within the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories.
On Wednesday, President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani chaired a meeting with the Kurdish parties in Erbil and set Sep. 25 as the referendum date.
The decision was widely welcomed by the Kurdish people in the Kurdistan Region and diaspora in what President Barzani has labeled a “historic day.”
Kurdish officials have repeatedly highlighted that referendum is a democratic practice, and the people of the Kurdistan Region have the right to decide on their future.
Kurds have also stated there is no “turning back” from holding an independence referendum.
Hoshyar Zebari cautioned that the “Yes” vote would not lead the Kurdistan Region to declare itself a sovereign state immediately, but rather to express the desires of the Kurdistan Region's people to the international community.
Kurdish officials have noted they will engage in peaceful dialogue with Baghdad and neighboring countries, affirming that an independent Kurdistan would bring stability to the region.
Throughout history, Kurds have long called for the establishment of a separate, autonomous enclave where they could protect themselves, secure rights, and live in a peaceful and stable environment.
Editing by G.H. Renaud