Almost 93 percent of Iraq’s Kurds voted to create an independent state, the High Elections and Referendum Commission said on Wednesday, in a referendum that has angered the Baghdad government and regional powers Turkey and Iran.
Voters were asked to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and Kurdistani areas outside the (Kurdistan) Region to become an independent country?”
More than 72 percent of eligible voters, or 3.3 million people, cast a ballot, with 92.73 percent of valid votes in favour of ‘yes’ and 7.27 percent in favour of ‘no.’ Officials from the electoral commission told a press conference in Erbil that 2,861,000 people voted ‘yes’, while 224,000 voted ‘no’.
Leaders in the northern Iraqi region have been urged to ‘cancel’ the result and instead engage in talks with Baghdad ‘in the framework of the constitution’. However, Kurdish leaders say the decisive ‘yes’ in response to the vote gives them the authority to begin secession negotiations with the Iraqi government and those of neighbouring countries.
The US, a number of European countries, Iran and Turkey have all spoken out against the vote.