Protestors storm Kurdish parliament to 'protest Barzani's departure'

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Mr Barzani, who has campaigned for Kurdish self-determination for almost four decades, asked Parliament in a letter to take measures to fill the resulting power vacuum. A majority of 70 Kurdish MPs voted to accept Barzani's request and 23 opposed it, Kurdish TV channels Rudaw and Kurdistan 24 said. Some attacked journalists at the scene.

Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani called for presidential elections to be held a month earlier in northern Iraq on November 1 instead of December 7.

The Iraqi government responded to the independence referendum, which is considered illegal by Baghdad, with a series of economic reprisals and a military campaign to gain control of a number of territories held by the Kurdish army since 2014, including the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

In his address, Barzani vigorously defended his decision to hold the September 25 referendum, the results of which "can never be erased", he said.

"Changing the law on the presidency of Kurdistan or prolonging the presidential term is not acceptable", said the architect of the September 25 non-binding independence vote.

The loss of the oilfields, which provided income that would have been critical to an independent Kurdish state, sparked recriminations among the Kurds.

He criticised the U.S. for allowing Abrams tanks supplied to Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State militants to be used against the Kurds.

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"Our people should now question, whether the USA was aware of Iraq's attack and why they did not prevent it".

Barzani's assistant, Hemin Hawrami, tweeted on Saturday evening that the present KRG president had "refused to get any extension, or any amendments".

Iraqi government launched an offensive which led to Kurds losing to Baghdad large swathes of oilfields in the disputed province of Kirkuk.

Regional, parliamentary and presidential elections were scheduled to take place on November 1, but the electoral committee has postponed them for July due to the lack of candidates.

"Nobody stood up with us other than our mountains", he said, speaking with Kurdish and Iraqi flags behind him. The US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said last week that he was "disappointed that the parties have been unable to reach an entirely peaceful resolution" and that he had encouraged Mr Al Abadi to accept the Kurdish government's "overtures for talks on the basis of the Iraqi constitution".

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged dialogue between Baghdad and the Kurds, telling Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in a phone call Saturday that "everything possible should be done to avoid fighting between Iraqis", the presidency in Paris said. He had also rejected the Kurdish autonomous region's offer to suspend its independence movement and begin talks to resolve the crisis.