ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The former President of the Kurdistan Region stated that Baghdad’s repeated violation of the Iraqi Constitution and the failure to maintain a true partnership with Erbil were the two major factors that pushed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hold the landmark referendum on independence last year.
In a statement issued on Wednesday following a meeting with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) members in Erbil, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said Kurds have dealt with successive central governments since the creation of Iraq in the 1920s which have continuously disregarded the minority’s concerns, rights, and future.
The Kurdistan Region held a referendum on Sep. 25 which saw an overwhelming majority favor secession from Iraq. It was strongly opposed by Baghdad which responded to the vote by imposing a series of punitive measures, including an international flight ban to Kurdistan’s airports and the military takeover of disputed territories.
Barzani and other Kurdish officials have criticized the Iraqi federal government for failing to fully implement and respect the Iraqi constitution, and for treating the Kurds as “second-class citizens.” They have also called on Baghdad to address its issues with Erbil “within the framework of the federal constitution, and based on partnership and consensus.”
In the meeting, the former President and the Kurdish parliamentarians also discussed current developments in the region, notably the political crisis.
“The best option to correct the course of politics in the Kurdistan Region is to hold elections,” Barzani said.
Barzani was President of the Kurdistan Region from 2005 until the end of 2017. On October 1, his term as President ended after which he rejected any extension. He remains the leader of the KDP, the largest party in Kurdistan.
Despite the response by Baghdad and its allies, Barzani has previously stated he does not regret holding the referendum which he views as the “legitimate right of all peoples,” especially the 3 million people in the Kurdistan Region who voted.