Kurdistan referendum: Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani resigns as Iraqi protesters swarm parliament

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The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said it hopes that the situation in northern Iraq will normalize as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani has made a decision to step down.

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

As the Kurdish regional parliament was discussing his resignation letter, dozens of his supporters rioted outside, apparently angry over developments and expressing support for him.

Mr Barzani's rash referendum decision and Baghdad's swift response to it after September's poll have seen his forces lose almost half the territory they controlled during the war against Isis. They also attacked an office of the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and an opposition TV station. Witnesses reported the use of sticks, clubs and gunfire. "We do not hope for any more instability in Iraq or in the region".

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Mr Abadi signalled that Baghdad would press home its advantage after taking back control of territories that had been disputed with the Kurds.

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Control of the border area is of crucial importance for the landlocked Kurdish region.

Such changes will effectively end the Kurdish experiment with self-governance and any dreams of economic independence from Baghdad. The KRG's worldwide airspace has been closed and the Kurds have lost almost half of the territory they have controlled since the war against Isis began.

"Therefore, we cannot tolerate this and it is our duty to protect the citizens and the forces", the JOC said, stressing the federal forces have strict instructions to prevent bloodshed, but if the armed groups associated with Erbil (Peshmerga forces) fire at the federal forces, "they will be chased under the supremacy of the federal law and will not find safe haven".

Mr Barzani's political rivals have accused him of staging the referendum as a gamble created to secure a mandate for a third term in office. Presidential elections due in November have been indefinitely postponed.

The cost of a three-year war on Islamic State added to the Kurdistan region's financial difficulties, and fall of the oil region of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces halved the KRG's oil income.

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