Iraq's top Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, on Saturday, has called for the 'right to self-determination' of the northern Iraqi region. The move could reinforce the demand for total independence to Kurdistan, which has already been accorded autonomy.
The region has been in constant disagreement with the Iraqi national government over oil revenues, especially in the city of Kirkuk. Kurdistan is split into three provinces, with an own legislative body which controls policy-making in the region.
At the congress of his Kurdistan Democratic Party(KDP), Barzani stated that the delegates attending the conference would be presented with the issue of 'self-determination', which he considered was 'a right' of the Kurdish people. The proposal would be voted upon during the week-long conference, said media reports. This is the first such gathering since 1999 and more than 1,000 members of the party would cast their vote to elect 50 new members for the leadership committee.
Barzani's remarks also came in the presence of Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.
Iraqi political parties, last month, have broken a record 249-day post-election impasse and agreed to form a government. Shia leader Maliki was handed over another prime ministerial term. The talks that put an end to the eight-month political standoff were brokered by Barzani. The Kurd leader Jalal Talabani, retained the presidency and several prominent ministerial posts are likely to be given to his faction. The KDP is currently an important partner in Maliki's coalition government.
Bhagdad, however, has often accused Kurd leaders in Kirkuk and other neighbouring provinces over independently striking deals with international oil firms. The ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk has for long been a flashpoint in the country's revenue systems.
Speaking of Kirkuk, Barzani said, when it returns to the region... we will make Kirkuk an example of coexistence, forgiveness and joint administration, but we cannot bargain on its identity.