Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

During his speech, Barzani said the Iraqi central government has used the Kurdish vote in September as "an excuse" to retake territory.

Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), announced that he was stepping down as regional president on Sunday.

The televised speech marked a melancholic denouement for the Kurdish leader, weeks after he defied worldwide and regional opposition to an independence poll held in Kurdish-majority provinces as well as in territories in dispute between Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region.

Mr Barzani also accused leaders of the PUK, whose founder Jalal Talabani died days after the referendum, of being guilty of "high treason on 16 October".

The region has become increasingly isolated as neighbouring Turkey threatened the use of military force and Ankara as well as Tehran closed their borders to the land-locked area.

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On Sunday, protesters stormed into the Kurdistan Parliament building as the chamber voted for distributing president Masoud Barzani's powers among a number of state bodies.

"Three million votes for Kurdistan independence created history and can not be erased", Mr Barzani said, bitterly accusing his political rivals of "treason" for giving up the contested oil-rich city of Kirkuk to central government troops in the fighting sparked by the 25 September vote.

He also informed parliament that he will not seek an extension of his term, which is set to expire November 1, but Barzani's senior assistant, Hemin Hawrami said the move did not mean the Kurdish leader was "stepping down".

It was a tarnishing of Barzani's legacy, many said.

James Jeffery is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former diplomat. Witnesses reported the use of sticks, clubs and gunfire. They also attacked an opposition member of parliament who had criticized Barzani, according to the Alsumaria news channel.

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Barzani's family continues to play an outsized role in the region's political hierarchy.

And the suspension of the presidency, said Zaid Ali, author of "The Struggle for Iraq's Future", has created an impossible task for Kurdish lawmakers.

Masoud Barzani has been president of the Kurdish Regional Government since 2005.

"It won't go smoothly, and it may lead to both sides stopping working with each other", he said.

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