Referendum preparations announced in Kurdistan

It has been announced today that preparations for Kurdistan’s independence referendum are well underway, and details of efforts to resolve the issues relating to the process have been released by senior advisor to President Massoud Barzani, Hemin Hawrami.

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The referendum, which will take place on the 25th of September, will require the coordinated efforts of all of Kurdistan’s political machinery to run smoothly, with over two thousand polling centres and more than twelve thousand polling stations.

The successful operation of these polling stations, with more than forty-three thousand ballot boxes, will be in the hands of more than sixty thousand staff hired for the four days around the referendum. Ensuring a fair and orderly ballot will require officials to run polling stations, vote counters, and the presence of security personnel to prevent disruption.

While the wording of the question for the referendum has not been finalised, it has been released that the paper will feature the question in four languages: Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen and Syriac. This is to allow the widest possible cross section of people within Kurdistan to understand it and take part.

To deal with the political issues arising out of the coming referendum, a referendum secretariat will be formed, while a negotiating team will visit Baghdad by the 15th of August. Parliament will also be recalled in Kurdistan, and Mr Hawrami urged all parties to take part in the discussions, stating that they would continue even if some of those there chose not to be involved, as there was no time in which to risk delays.

The necessity of the referendum was explained by Kurdistan’s security chief, Masrour Barzani, in a speech to representatives in Washington DC. There, he stated that Kurdistan’s people could not be safe from potential attack without sovereignty, and that the one state solution for Iraq had been tried repeatedly, failing each time. The visit seems timed to build support for the potential new nation, while also seeking to allay any fears attached to its construction.

The core message from the visit was clear: that the referendum would be taking place as planned, and so far, preparations are proceeding well.

By Davan Yahya Khalil