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Iraq’s Kurdistan region to hold legislative, presidential polls on September 30

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani has set September 30 as the date for parliamentary and presidential elections in the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq.

Iraq’s Kurdish-language Rudaw television news network, which is affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), reported on Tuesday that the polls had been scheduled for November 1, 2017, but were postponed as longtime Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani stepped down from the KRG presidency following a failed referendum on independence from the rest of Iraq.

Last October, the Kurdistan parliament voted to postpone elections by eight months and extend its term until elections are held.

Tensions flared up between Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad after the KRG held a highly controversial plebiscite on independence on September 25 last year despite strong opposition from Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the provocative vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to and from the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales. The KRG at the time described such measures as “collective punishment.”

After the air ban was enforced, all Kurdistan-bound international flights were rerouted to Baghdad, which also imposed entry visas to foreigners wishing to visit the Kurdistan region.

Finally, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the reopening of the airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region for international flights in a statement released on March 15 this year.

Back in October, Iraqi federal forces retook control of the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and many disputed territories in response to the Kurdish referendum. Kirkuk is not one of the three provinces that have made up the Kurdish region since 2003. However, Kurdish militants used a vacuum created when government troops were fighting against Daesh terrorists to overtake the oil-rich city.

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