The United Nations said it will not be "engaged in any way or form" in the process surrounding the independence referendum in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region planned for September.
The statement by the UN special mission to Iraq, or UNAMI, released late Wednesday could cast doubts on the credibility of the vote, which has already sparked wide criticism from the central government in Baghdad and several regional and Western nations.
Last week, the president of the Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, said the vote, slated for Sept. 25, will determine whether the Kurdish
region would secede from Iraq.
The balloting is to be held in three governorates that make up the Kurdish region but also in areas that are contested by both the Kurds and the central government. Those disputed areas have been under the Kurds' control since the 2014 Islamic State group's onslaught in western and northern Iraq and the withdrawal of security forces from these areas.
The UNAMI statement did not say why it was distancing itself from the referendum, but added that it "seeks to rectify inaccurate news reports that UNAMI will oversee, support or observe" the vote. UNAMI "has no intention to be engaged in any way or form" with the referendum, it concluded.