Kirkuk governor declares overnight curfew after Kurdish independence vote

IKBY President barzani we are ready to have constructive conversations with Iraq

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region kicked off an independence referendum on Monday in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and urgent calls from the worldwide community to scrap the vote.

Iran has constantly been in contact with the Kurdish officials, and has insisted that the Kurdish region should have solved its problems with Baghdad central government through political dialog, the spokesman said.

People across Iraqi Kurdistan cast their vote on September 25 in a non-binding independence referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government. The United States and other Western nations have raised concerns about the vote, saying it could hamper the fight against IS jihadists in which cooperation between Baghdad and the Kurds has been key.

But with 30 million ethnic Kurds scattered across the region - mainly in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria - Tehran and Ankara fear the spread of separatism to their own Kurdish populations.

Pressure from Baghdad and the global community to call off the referendum has mounted over the past week.

The historic poll, which is nonbinding, took place in three northern Kurdish provinces of Iraq, as well as in disputed areas such as the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Under Iraq's constitution, the government is obliged to comply with the parliamentary vote.

Hundreds of global media outlets and observers have registered to oversee the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum process that concludes with local voting on Monday.

"Only through independence can we secure a future where we will not have the past atrocities", he said.

"In Iraq, when necessary, we will not shy away from taking these types of steps", Erdogan said, referring to Turkey's military operation launched previous year in Syria against Islamic State group (IS) extremists and Syrian Kurdish militia.

Erdogan said traffic was only being allowed to cross from the Turkish side of the border into Kurdish areas of Iraq. There were fewer billboards celebrating the referendum, reflecting resentment that a yes vote could be seen as a plebiscite for the Kurdish leader. "They are going to live in a cage", said Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati, a Shi'ite Turkmen and a local leader of the Iranian-backed Badr Organisation paramilitary group in Tuz Khurmato, south of Kirkuk.

Turkey has also opposed the referendum and warned that the disintegration of Iraq has the potential to turn into a major global conflict.

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