The parliament of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region has approved holding a referendum on independence on September 25 despite growing opposition from Baghdad and neighbouring countries.
Politicians in the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, in northern Iraq, convened for the first time in two years on Friday and decided to go ahead with the vote as planned earlier in the year.
The central government in Baghdad opposes the referendum, with its parliament having rejected the Kurdish plans in a resolution on Tuesday.
Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Turkey, have also expressed their opposition to the plan as they fear an independent Kurdish state could fuel separatism among their own Kurdish populations.
Friday’s vote also followed the removal on Thursday of Najm Eddine Karim as the governor of the Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk.
Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), had earlier said on Friday that the vote won’t be delayed, despite pressing requests from the United States and other western powers worried that the tension between Baghdad and Erbil would distract from the war on the ISIL group.
“We still haven’t heard a proposal that can be an alternative to the Kurdistan referendum,” Barzani told a pro-independence rally in the Kurdish town Amadiya.
Gorran, the main opposition movement to Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), boycotted the parliament session in Erbil.
It was a dispute between Gorran and the KDP that caused the assembly to suspend its sessions in 2015.
Watch Inside Story: Can Iraq’s Kurdish region gain independence?
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies