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Iraqi Kurdistan Outgoing President Vows to Continue Fight for Kurds' Rights

© AFP 2023 / Safin HamedIraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani
Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani - Sputnik International
Amid the grave consequences of a controversial independence referendum in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, its leader Masoud Barzani decided to step down from the presidency.

CAIRO (Sputnik) — President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani said on Sunday that he will continue to fight for the rights of the Kurds as a member of the Peshmerga, after his term as the autonomy's head ends on November 1.

READ MORE: 'There Is a War Already': Official Warns of Likely 'Death' of Iraqi Kurdistan

Earlier in the day, 71-year-old leader officially refused to extend his duties. Previously both presidential, as well as parliamentary elections, were slated for November 1, however, the chaos that broke out after the independence vote made authorities to postpone elections.

Masoud Barzani is the first president of Iraqi Kurdistan elected in 2005. In 2013 he refused to abandon the post, though his mandate expired. The parliament since then has extended it twice for two years.

An Iraqi soldier removes a Kurdish flag from Altun Kupri on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, Friday Oct. 20, 2017 - Sputnik International
Former IDF General: Iraqi Kurds Made 'Big Miscalculation' With Independence Bid
Barzani is considered to be an architect of the independence referendum held in Kurdistan on September 25. More than 90 percent of 3.4 million people in northern Iraq’s three main Kurdish provinces and in multi-ethnic Kirkuk region voted to have a separate nation-state. The independence vote was deemed illegal by the central authorities. Iraqi government launched an offensive which led to Kurds losing to Baghdad large swathes of oilfields in the disputed province of Kirkuk.

In a statement, Barzani stressed that despite stepping down as a president he would remain a fighter of the Peshmerga.

"I will be with the people, among other dear fighters of the Peshmerga, I will continue to fight for the rights of the Kurdish people and for the preservation of the Kurds’ achievements," Barzani added.

After Barzani announced his resignation protesters reportedly attempted to storm the building of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil. According to the Sky News Arabia, there was shooting inside the parliament's building but a spokesman of the parliament told Sputnik that the information about the shooting in the building was nothing but rumors.

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