ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The President of the Kurdistan Region on Thursday said the people of Kurdistan would go to ballot stations on Sep. 25 to cast their votes if no better alternatives leading up to the independence referendum were presented.
During a speech delivered at an independence referendum ceremony in Zakho, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani reiterated there would be no delay in the referendum until a better alternative to independence was offered.
Addressing thousands of people gathered at the Zakho Stadium, President Barzani stated the decision to hold an independence referendum was not personal but based on the will of the people of Kurdistan.
President Barzani also said he met with a delegation from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the head of the United Nations in Iraq to discuss the independence referendum.
The President said the people of Kurdistan would only accept an alternative to independence if there was a better option. Otherwise, the referendum would be held “at all costs,” he added.
President Barzani reassured negations with the international delegations, including the UN Security Council, would continue.
“If the people of Kurdistan are presented with a better and more guaranteed alternative, the Kurdistan leadership will make a decision,” he said.
“If the only aim is to postpone the referendum, the postponement will never happen,” President Barzani concluded.
Neighbors Turkey and Iran, as well as the US and Iraq, have voiced their opposition to the Kurdistan Region’s independence vote.
US officials believe the referendum is ill-timed and would distract forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
On Thursday, Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, said he met with the leadership in Kurdistan to discuss other options for the independence vote but did not provide details.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany