Iraqi Kurds 'to vote on independence in September'

Iraqi Kurds will hold an independence referendum on September 25, according to the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Masoud Barzani.

He announced the vote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Hamin Hawrami, a senior presidential adviser, said on his own Twitter account that the decision follows a meeting of the major Kurdish political parties in Irbil, the region's capital.

Iraq's Kurdish region, with a population of about five million, already enjoys a high degree of autonomy, including its own parliament and armed forces.

However, relations with the central government in Baghdad have nosedived in recent years over a range of issues.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in April that he respects the Kurdish right to vote on independence, but he did not think the timing was right for the move.

AP

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