Iraqi Kurdish leaders have formed a political council to handle issues related to their recent independence referendum, which was held despite vehement opposition from national authorities in Baghdad.
Kurdish news outlet Rudaw on October 1 said the decision was made at a meeting in Irbil led by Masud Barzani, the president of the autonomous region in northern Iraq.
The nonbinding referendum on Kurdish independence, held on September 25, passed with about 95 percent of the 3.3 million people participating voting in favor of a spit from Iraq. Turnout was reported at more than 72 percent of eligible voters.
Along with the authorities in Baghdad, the United States and other Western powers and the United Nations opposed the vote, as did neighboring Turkey and Iran, which have large Kurdish populations.
The new council, called the Political Leadership of Kurdistan-Iraq, will take the place of the High Referendum Council, which organized the vote for independence, a long-held desire of many Kurds in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
Officials said the council was created to establish dialogue with Baghdad and foreign countries following the referendum.