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Iraqi Parliament Rejects Plan For Kurdish Independence Referendum

Kurdish regional President Masud Barzani vowed to press ahead with the referendum.

Iraq's parliament has voted to reject a planned Kurdish independence referendum and authorized Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to "take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue" with the country's Kurdish leaders.

Kurdish lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament walked out of the session on September 12 before the vote to reject the nonbinding referendum in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region took place.

After the vote, Kurdish leader Masud Barzani vowed to press ahead with the referendum, scheduled for September 25.

“Dialogue with Baghdad will resume after the referendum," he said in a statement.

The referendum has faced strong opposition from Iran and Turkey, which fear the vote will encourage separatist movements among their own large Kurdish minorities.

The United States and the European Union also oppose the referendum, fearing it would severely weaken the already shaky Baghdad government.

Even many among the 5.5 million population in the Kurdish region have come out against the poll, saying it could disrupt the fight against Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups.

But Barzani said the vote was necessary because "all other bids" to secure full Kurdish rights "have failed."

The Kurdish region won autonomy in 2005 under a constitution that established a federal republic in Iraq.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP