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Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani ‘to resign’


Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani 'to resign'

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Massoud Barzani played a prominent role in creating an autonomous Kurdish state

Iraqi Kurdish president Massoud Barzani is to resign, reports say, as the fallout from the region's independence referendum continues.

Kurds voted overwhelmingly last month for Kurdistan to secede but Iraq's central government insists the referendum was illegal.

Iraq's army then launched an assault on the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, seizing the area's rich oil fields.

Mr Barzani's current term had been due to end in four days.

The region's deputy parliamentary speaker, Jaafar Imniki, told Kurdish news channels a letter by Mr Barzani would be read out in parliament on Sunday. Kurdish media said it will be a letter of resignation.

Reuters news agency said Mr Barzani's letter outlines how the president's powers should now be divided among government institutions.

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The 71-year-old's dream of Kurdish independence has been left in tatters in the wake of the referendum on 25 September, despite wide support within the region to see it break away.

He has held office since 2005, having played a prominent role in creating an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq after Saddam Hussein fell.

Barzani went on to win another presidential election in 2009, and his term was extended in 2013.

After losing territory around Kirkuk to the central government, Mr Barzani had faced calls to stand down by opponents in the Kurdistan Region.

Presidential and parliamentary elections due for 1 November were suspended when the Kirkuk assault started.

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