Kurdistan independence referendum cannot be held unless parliament reactivated: PUK

A joint meeting between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), chaired by the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, April 11, 2017. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

One of the main parties in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Region has said that an independence referendum on secession from Baghdad cannot be held without the reactivation of parliament.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in a statement on Tuesday said the referendum could not be held unless political problems were resolved, the parliament reactivated and a national consensus reached.

“Also, no issue should be sidelined at the expense of another issue, because from an objective point of view after the full defeat of Isis, a sensitive situation will come about that requires resolving all the issues simultaneously,” the statement added.

The PUK’s statement came as a response to remarks made by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)’s head of the foreign relations office, Hoshyar Siwaily, who said leading members of the PUK didn’t believe parliament needed to be reactivated for the referendum to be held.

PUK officials recently met with the KDP, which holds the main positions in the KRG, to discuss a time frame and mechanism for the referendum; discussions are thought to be ongoing.

The decision to form a committee consisting of seven parties, five major Kurdish political parties, plus two seats reserved for Turkmen and Christian minorities, was taken at the meeting.

However the committee is yet to be set up due to major political differences, especially between the KDP and Gorran (Change) movement, Rudaw reported.

Parliament has not convened since October 2015, when security forces under the control of the KDP blocked the assembly speaker, a Gorran member, from entering the parliament building in Erbil.

All Kurdish parties are in favour of independence but have called for a mandate from parliament.

The central Baghdad government, as well as Iran and Turkey have warned against the referendum, warning that it could be to the detriment of the Kurds.