KIRKUK — Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited Kirkuk Province on Tuesday to address the components of the province about the upcoming referendum on independence.
In a meeting attended by representatives of different ethnic and religious components of Kirkuk, Barzani reiterated that Kirkuk should have a special status within the independent Kurdistan based on genuine partnership.
He stated that the referendum is a natural right of the people of Kirkuk, stressing that the city is not only for Kurds and it is not meant to redraw borders.
Barzani reaffirmed that the independent Kurdistan will be a federal, democratic, multi ethnic, and multi religious state wherein the rights of all components will be secured and preserved.
The Kurdish president reassured Kirkuk’s population that only the people of Kirkuk will decide the future of the province and that no one can impose any status on the city.
“We will not allow anyone to harm the security and stability of Kirkuk. We respect all views against the referendum, but the will of the majority of people of the province who want referendum should also be respected,” Barzani said, reiterating “Kirkuk will remain the symbol of peace, coexistence and brotherhood.”
In an interview with BBC, Barzani dismissed the criticism of the decision to hold the referendum in Kirkuk. "We don't say that Kirkuk only belongs to Kurds," he said. "Kirkuk should be a symbol of coexistence for all ethnicities. If the people of Kirkuk vote 'No' in this referendum, we will respect their vote... but we don't accept that anyone can prevent us from holding a referendum there.”
The independence vote of Kurdistan Region will take place on September 25 in the three provinces of the region - Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah - as well as the Kurdistani areas outside the region's official borders, including Kirkuk, Makhmour, Khanaqin, and Sinjar.