Iraqi Prime Minister Regards Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional

Cheryl Sanders
September 13, 2017

Iraq's Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani vowed on Tuesday to press ahead with a referendum on Kurdish independence on September 25 despite a vote by Iraq's parliament to reject the move.

Earlier in the day, the Iraqi parliament voted on a draft of law rejecting the Kurdish independence referendum, putting obligation on Abadi to "take all measures that preserve the unity of Iraq and start a serious dialogue to address outstanding issues between Baghdad and the Kurdish region".

A breakdown for the vote was not immediately available. Kurdish MPs walked out of the session beforehand, but the vote still got a majority.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and other top officials have said repeatedly the referendum would violate Iraq's constitution. "We will not allow the partition of Iraq".

Mulla Bukhtiyar, head of political office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), attends a news conference after a meeting of the three main Kurdish parties in the region in Erbil, Iraq on September 12, 2017.

"The logic of the use of arms in solving problems is very risky in the democratic Iraq", Bukhtiyar said, adding the Kurdish parties "called for calm conditions".

Iraqi Kurdish officials have said the referendum would happen as soon as the ISIS war was over.

Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session before the vote and issued statements rejecting the decision.

The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq was due to be held in the three governorates - Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah - that constitute the nation's Kurdish region, and in areas of disputed territory now under Kurdish military control, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Iran, Turkey and the Arab League, among others, are opposed to the kurdish referendum since they fear that a Yes result will provoke imbalances in the region and a renascence of terrorism.

Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East after the collapse of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire and left Kurdish-populated territory split between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

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