Kurdish youth staged a peaceful protest on Friday over Baghdad’s measures against the Kurdistan Region following the referendum, including imposing a flight ban. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cannot nullify the results of the referendum – such a decision rests only in the hands of the people, the KRG spokesperson said on Tuesday, responding to calls for from Baghdad to cancel the result of the referendum that saw 92.7 percent support for independence from Iraq.
“Annulling its result is not as easy as the officials in Baghdad think,” said spokesperson Safin Dizayee in a published statement.
The referendum does not belong to the government or any political party, but to the people, and “they have decided their future through the framework of this referendum,” Dizayee said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi demanded Kurdistan cancel the results of the referendum as a pre-condition for talks.
“The Kurdistan Region has to cancel the result of the unconstitutional referendum and then engage in serious dialogue with Baghdad to strengthening the integrity of Iraq,” said Abadi’s media office in an announcement on Monday.
Baghdad has also told Kurdish forces to withdraw from disputed areas and, claiming that Kurdistan’s referendum was illegal, urged the Kurdish leadership to act within the framework of the constitution.
The Kurdistan Region maintains that the referendum was legally valid and, in turn, accuses Baghdad of multiple violations of the constitution, thereby driving Kurdistan to stage the plebiscite.
Dizayee defended Peshmerga presence in the disputed areas claimed by both governments. He said the Kurdish forces moved into protect these areas from ISIS and they have provided security in these areas “without any national and religious discrimination.”
“In addition, the Peshmerga forces are not a foreign force that have come from outside Iraq and invaded these areas. Rather, as it is mentioned in the Iraqi constitution, the Peshmerga forces are a part of the federal Iraq’s defense system,” Dizayee added.
He stressed that the KRG wants to resolve differences through dialogue with Baghdad and called for calm.