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17 September 2017, 12:49 | Colleen Roy
The Governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim during an interview with Kurdistan 24
Kirkuk - a province contested by Baghdad and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen - decided at the end of August to take part in the controversial referendum.
"The referendum risks increasing instability in the region when the focus should be on defeating Daesh", said the statement, making a reference to an ongoing fight against Takfiri terrorists in Iraq.
"The meeting will discuss the referendum of the Kurdistan region, which will be on 25 September, and will respond to the decision made earlier by the Iraqi parliament, which rejected this referendum", said Tariq Jowhar, media advisor of the Parliament, said on Friday.
The regional parliament's decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the United States, which has provided critical military aid to the KRG's fight against Daesh, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum.
Kirkuk has always been the center of dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds, raising the prospect that conflict could erupt between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds. "This referendum is not legitimate and we do not recognize it", said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Spokesperson Bulent Tezcan on Wednesday.
Voters will face one question, asked in Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen, and Assyrian: "Do you want the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and Kurdistani territories that are outside KRI to become an independent state?"
Baghdad has repeatedly opposed the Kurdish referendum, calling it "unconstitutional".
In recent years, there have been tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan over power-sharing, oil revenues and territorial disputes. Supporters of the referendum argue Kurds deserve their own state after fighting IS and facing years of oppression at the hands of governments in Baghdad, including gassing and ethnic cleansing under former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Kurdish region won autonomy in 2005 under a constitution that established a federal republic in Iraq.
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