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Iraqi Kurd parliament postpones elections for 8 months

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, seated next to a Kurdish flag, looks on during a press conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 22, 2017
SAFIN HAMED (AFP)
Iraqi Kurd's main opposition party called for Barzani to step down after loss of Kurdish-controlled territory

Parliament in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region decided Tuesday to hold legislative elections in eight months after they were delayed amid tensions over disputed territory with the central government in Baghdad.

Simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in the Kurdish region had been due to take place on November 1 but were delayed. There was no immediate word on a date for a new presidential election. 

The elections would have taken place just over a month after a September 25 referendum in the Kurdish areas resulted in a massive "yes" for independence.

The referendum, set in motion by long-time regional leader Massud Barzani, was strongly opposed by Baghdad.

Iraqi forces last week swept into the oil-rich Kirkuk province in the north, restoring it and Kurdish-held parts of Nineveh and Diyala provinces to the control of the central government.

SAFIN HAMED (AFP/Archives)

The rapid Kurdish retreat triggered recriminations among Kurdish politicians and prompted the regional parliament to postpone both elections.

On Sunday, Iraqi Kurdistan's main opposition party called for Barzani to step down after the loss of Kurdish-controlled territory.

Shoresh Haji of the Goran movement, which holds 24 out of 111 seats in the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament, said both Barzani and his deputy Kosrat Rasul should quit.

"The Kurdistan region's president and his deputy no longer have any legitimacy and should resign," he said.

Haji called for the creation of a "national salvation government" to prepare for dialogue with Baghdad and organise new elections.

A month after scoring a major victory in the independence referendum, Barzani now finds himself isolated both at home and abroad.

The United States, a key ally of both Baghdad and Kurdish forces in the battle against the Islamic State group, opposed the non-binding referendum, as did nations including Iraq's neighbours Iran and Turkey.

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