Iraq commission planning autonomy referendum for Basra province Jaclyn Belczyk at 4:15 PM ET
[JURIST] The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) on Sunday announced plans to collect signatures to initiate a referendum to make the province of Basra autonomous so that it can benefit from its oil wealth. The referendum was initiated by Wael Abdul Latif [AFP report], an independent member of parliament and former magistrate. Signatures will be collected [AFP report] from December 15 to January 14. The referendum could be held within three months. If passed, Basra would become an autonomous region with the same rights as Kurdistan, an autonomous region in northern Iraq. Abdul Latif maintains that relations with the central government would differ from Kurdistan's relations in that oil contracts would not become the responsibility of the Basra government.
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