FILE PHOTO: Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani speaks to the media during his visits in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
By Angus MacSwan
ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – The president of Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan has called a parliamentary and presidential election for November which could help ease a long-running political row as the Kurds push for independence from Baghdad.
The elections will follow an independence referendum set for Sept. 25, a move that will strain Iraq’s frayed federal unity and annoy neighbours Syria, Turkey and Iran, who also have sizable Kurdish populations.
The political developments take place as Iraqi government forces push back Islamic State militants from territory in northern Iraq, a campaign in which Kurdish peshmerga forces have played a vital role.
The Kurdistan region last held a presidential election in 2009 and a parliamentary election in 2013. President Masoud Barzani won the 2009 poll but has said he will not stand again.
His term of office expired in 2013 and has been extended twice, during which time Kurdistan has suffered bouts of unrest and political disarray. The parliament has not met since October 2015.
An aide to Barzani said the election was set for Nov. 1.
(Reporting by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Andrew Heavens)