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Abadi Calls for Calm in Kurdistan After Barzani Resignation


Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is calling for calm and a respect for the law in the northern Kurdistan region, a day after its leader announced he was stepping down as president.

Abadi said Monday he is closely following the developments in the Kurdistan region and the attacks on the headquarters of the parties "as well as the media and attempts to cause chaos and disturbances in Irbil and Dahuk."

Demonstrators try to pass through a police blockade at the Kurdistan Parliament building in Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017.
Demonstrators try to pass through a police blockade at the Kurdistan Parliament building in Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017.

He said the central government in Baghdad wants to establish safe conditions in all of the country's provinces and to protect the interests of every citizen.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani used a televised speech Sunday to say he would resign effective November 1.

A still image taken from a video shows Kurdish President Masoud Barzani giving a televised speech in Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017.
A still image taken from a video shows Kurdish President Masoud Barzani giving a televised speech in Irbil, Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017.

He asked lawmakers to dissolve the position of the president and distribute its duties among the Kurdish prime minister, parliament and the judiciary.

Dozens of Barzani's supporters broke into the building and attacked lawmakers and journalists, while a crowd outside waved Kurdish flags in support of him.

The parliament building of Iraq's Kurdistan region is seen in Irbil, northern Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017. Angry Kurds stormed the building Sunday after Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani announced he was stepping down as president of the self-ruled region.
The parliament building of Iraq's Kurdistan region is seen in Irbil, northern Iraq, Oct. 29, 2017. Angry Kurds stormed the building Sunday after Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani announced he was stepping down as president of the self-ruled region.

He said Abadi's government used a September Kurdish independence referendum as "an excuse" to retake much of the territory the Kurds had controlled for years after peshmerga and coalition forces ousted the Islamic State militants who captured vast swaths of northern Iraq in 2014. The referendum resulted in more than 92 percent of Iraqi Kurds choosing independence.

Abadi called the independence referendum illegal.

The Iraqi military and the Kurdish minority had been clashing for several weeks in mostly low-level firefights until Friday, when they agreed to a cease-fire, and Kurdish forces abandoned the land they held, largely without resistance.

Kurdish leaders offered to freeze the referendum results and start dialogue with the central government in Baghdad, but Abadi rejected that offer.

Abadi said he would accept only an annulment of the referendum and respect for the country's constitution.

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