‘Will of people triumphed’, says PM Barzani on Kurdish referendum anniversary

An overwhelming majority voted in favor of independence. The turnout was 72 percent, according to Kurdish election body figures.
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Kurdish people rally for yes-vote in Kurdistan Region independence referendum, Sept. 16, 2017. (Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP)
Kurdish people rally for yes-vote in Kurdistan Region independence referendum, Sept. 16, 2017. (Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum held in 2017, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said the will of the people succeeded.

“On this day the will of the people triumphed,” Barzani tweeted along with a 21-second-long video showing one of the referendum’s rallies, in which people were celebrating.  

A voice-over of President Masoud Barzani, the champion of the referendum, is heard on the video, saying: the bravery of Peshmerga forces and resistance of the Kurdistan Region people outweigh any power.

An overwhelming majority voted in favor of independence. The turnout was 72 percent, according to Kurdish election body figures. Four hundred international electoral observers monitored the process.

In addition to the Kurdish-majority population, a considerable number of Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, and other ethnic and religious components took part in the referendum both in Kurdistan Region as well as in the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

The polls came as the three-year-long fight against ISIS was waning.

The Peshmerga forces, under the leadership of former President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and international support from Coalition forces, were able to defeat the terror group and recaptured much of the territories lost to the extremists when Iraqi soldiers withdrew in 2014.

The Kurdish leadership has publicly declared that the referendum was not intended to lead to an immediate succession from Iraq, rather, it was a democratic means to express the nation’s will.

The assurances did not stop the Iraqi authorities from launching a widespread military offensive on the areas contested by both governments in mid-October 2017, as a result of which a significant number of Kurdish people were displaced in those areas. Some of the civilian properties belonging to Kurdish people were set ablaze by the forces, including Iranian-backed Iraqi militias.