Barzani, Abadi in defiant press speeches ahead of Kurdish referendum

Haider al-Abadi and Massoud Barzani file photo.

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masud Barzani remained defiant in press speeches made Sunday on the eve of a Kurdish referendum on independence from Iraq.

In a televised speech aired by state TV, Abadi said the poll remains “unconstitutional”, reiterating that Baghdad “will not recognize its outcome”.

“We will never forsake our Kurdish citizens, their security and welfare. We reject the sectarian, racist state,” Abadi said, alluding to the independent state sought by the Kurds.

He said leaderships had the duty of “protecting civilians from surrounding dangers rather than endangering them and implicating them in useless conflicts,” in an obvious repetition of his earlier warning that the vote could spark a civil war.

Abadi also accused Kurdistan government of corruption as for its handling of oil production at areas under its control. Oil revenue sharing had been a central issue of dispute between Baghdad and Erbil.

Barzani, meanwhile, said in a concurrent press conference that Kurdistan was going ahead with the referendum, adding that “partnership with Iraq is over”.

“It was Baghdad that had declined to accept us,” Barzani said, adding that his government had sought to resolve issues of dispute with Baghdad through the international community.

He, however, said Erbil would engage in “open negotiations” with Baghdad after the referendum, adding that security cooperation would continue regarding the war against Islamic State militants.

“We will not allow a war to break out among Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen,” Barzani stated.

Kurdistan predicts 900.000 to vote in the poll rejected by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and regional powers Turkey and Iran.

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