World Bulletin / News Desk
Voters in areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), including areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, began to cast ballot on Monday in a controversial referendum on whether to secede from Iraq.
“We are keen on keeping the Kurds in our one homeland,” Salim al-Jubouri said in a statement.
"The unity of Iraq is our main concern and we will not give it up,” he said, going on to blame “wrong policies” for the current state of tension.
“The referendum will affect the upcoming election and will drag the country in a new phase,” he said.
Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the U.S., and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Turkey on Monday announced it would regard the results of the Kurdish referendum being held in northern Iraq as “null and void”.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG President Masoud Barzani has said a “Yes” win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.