Iraqi Kurdish region to look into offer to delay poll

Kurdish men march in support of the independence referendum carrying

Parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi said he had received a letter from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office calling for MPs to vote on the dismissal of the governor, Najm Eddine Karim.

Despite all the obstacles, Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan region in Iraq, is determined to hold a referendum on independence, an Armenian political analyst said on Friday.

"It is a path focused on sustained process of negotiation, dialogue, and making sure we have a very serious effort through negotiation to resolve numerous outstanding issues confronting the region and the central government in Baghdad", McGurk added. Kurdish leaders have come under increasing pressure from key ally the United States, as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran, to call off the vote fearing it could plunge the region into greater instability as the fight against the Islamic State group grinds to a close. "This referendum is not legitimate and we do not recognize it", said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Spokesperson Bulent Tezcan on Wednesday. "The prime minister does not have the power to ask parliament to remove me".

"We still haven't heard a proposal that can be an alternative to the Kurdistan referendum", Barzani told a rally in the Kurdish region, referring to a proposal put forward by the USA and other Western envoys this week.

Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, saying the region's stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity. Iraqi lawmakers say it will consolidate Kurdish control over several disputed areas, including oil-rich Kirkuk.

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it added.

A Foreign Ministry statement released Thursday also welcomed an Iraqi parliament vote that rejected the September 25 referendum as unconstitutional.

Kurds have long claimed Kirkuk and its huge oil reserves.

Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region. Last spring, Kirkuk's governorate voted to raise the Kurdish flag over state buildings, despite Baghdad's insistence that only Iraq's national flag should fly in the multiethnic city.

"We have told them, before and today, if there is a better alternative, our nation will accept it", Barzani said while addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Zakho's football stadium. "That is the only body that can remove him".

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