President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani has said that Kirkuk and the other disputed areas in northern Iraq are planning to carry out a referendum on joining Iraqi Kurdistan.
Barzani made the statement in Arbil after receiving the UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolai Miladinov, and briefing him about the latest developments in Kirkuk and the neighbouring areas. He also invited the UN to observe the referendum.
According to Anadolou news agency, Barzani said that according to article 140 of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution, which was drawn up two years after the ouster of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a referendum was supposed to be held to determine the final status of several disputed areas in the north, including Kirkuk and other small villages.
However, the referendum never took place because of instability in most of the disputed areas.
At a joint press conference with British Foreign Minister William Hague on Friday, Barzani explained that the Kurds have waited for more than ten years for the Iraqi government in Baghdad to address and solve the problems in the areas covered by Article 140, but to no avail.
In his statement, Barzani blamed the authorities in Baghdad for the instability in the region. Anadolou quotes him as saying Kirkuk is Kurdish land and that the Peshmerga – the Kurdish administration’s defence forces – will continue controlling it.
He added that Kirkuk is not responsible for Baghdad’s “mistaken” policies.