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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Iraqi Kurdish parliament postpones legislative elections for 8 months

Simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in the autonomous 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

An Iraqi Kurdish woman poses with the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, on October 21, 2017, protesting against the escalating crisis with Baghdad. Safin Hamed / AFP
An Iraqi Kurdish woman poses with the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, on October 21, 2017, protesting against the escalating crisis with Baghdad. Safin Hamed / AFP

The Iraqi Kurdish parliament decided on 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 autonomous 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 on Kurdish independence resulted in a massive "yes" for secession from Baghdad.

The referendum, set in motion by Iraqi Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, was strongly opposed by Baghdad.

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Iraqi forces last week retook the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces, along with parts of Nineveh and Diyala provinces that had also been held by the Kurds.

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

On Sunday, the Kurdish region's main opposition party called for Mr 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 Kurdish parliament, said both Mr 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.

Mr 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, Mr 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 ISIL, opposed the non-binding referendum, as did Iraq's neighbours Iran and Turkey.

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