Barzani: Referendum first step for Kurds to express their will

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Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has held a press conference in Erbil and told reporters that the scheduled referendum on independence on Monday would go ahead as planned.

“We ask what is the problem if the Kurdish people have right to express their will? Only through independence we can secure our safety,” Barzani told reporters at the much-anticipated press conference on Sunday days after international pressure against the vote mounted.

Barzani also spoke against those in Baghdad, saying that years of “harmful practices in the capital” prompted them to decide on a Kurdish referendum.

“The Kurdish referendum is only a first step for now and it is not to redraw borders or impose status-quo on Baghdad,” Barzani said.

The Kurdish politician also spoke on the future of the Peshmerga forces, saying that the Kurdish fighters will continue to work with the Iraqi army and the international coalition fighting against ISIS.

Earlier in the day, three main Kurdish parties announced their commitment to holding a referendum on Iraq's Kurdistan region scheduled for Monday.

A statement from three main Kurdish parties said that the referendum will go ahead as planned in all areas of the region, including Kirkuk.

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