Iraqi Prime Mnister Haider al-Abadi [L] and Kurdish President Masoud Barzani hold a press conference in Erbil in 2013. File photo: Rudaw/Farzin Hassan
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi Supreme Court has ruled to suspend the Kurdish referendum on Monday until it makes a final ruling on the case at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The Kurdistan Region is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.
The office of the Iraqi PM Abadi said that he filed the court case against Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and the Kurdish parliament speaker Yousif Mohammed.
The Kurdish parliament voted on Friday to back the referendum at its stated time on September 25.
The statement said Abadi called on the court to not allow "any region or province to separate from Iraq."
It read that the referendum violates the Iraqi constitution, and threatens Iraq’s territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
It also added that the vote will lead to “dangerous consequences” whose impact cannot be reversed, and that it will threaten the “public peace” at a time when the country is going through difficult economic and security situations.
The Kurdish plan, scheduled for one week from now, is also a “threat to regional peace," the statement argued.
The Kurdistan Region has said they decided to hold the vote only after giving the new Iraq a fair chance to work for all Iraqis, including Kurds, for the last 14 years since it was established following the US-led invasion in 2003.
The Kurdistan Region accuses Baghdad of having violated about one-third of the Iraqi constitution, chief among them Article 140 that concerns the fate of the disputed areas such as Kirkuk, and also a decision by the Iraqi government to cut its share of the budget since early 2014 following the Kurdish plans to export oil independently of Baghdad to the world’s markets.
Erbil says that the Iraqi constitution clearly stipulates that adherence to the constitution is the guarantor of the unity of Iraq and they claim that dozens of articles of the constitution have been violated by Iraq, including Article 140.
The preface of the Iraqi constitution reads: “The adherence to this constitution preserves for Iraq its free union, its people, its land and its sovereignty.”
As evidence of the broken trust between the two capitals, a Kurdish delegation visiting Baghdad where they met with Iraqi and foreign officials including Abadi, the Kurds took with them a list of 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution they claim have been violated by Baghdad.
President Barzani said last month that because of its own failures to respect the Iraqi constitution, Baghdad cannot now use that document as an excuse to say Kurdistan has no right to hold a referendum.
“What constitutional article gave you the right to cut the bread of Kurdistan? What constitutional article gave you the right to violate and ignore Article 140?” Barzani asked at the time, noting that Baghdad has denied the Peshmerga their share of the budget but parliament took just hours to pass a law bringing the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi under government purview and financial backing.
“It is a shame for them to mention the constitution,” said Barzani, because “every step they took was in violation of the constitution.”
Earlier a court statement detailed that the ruling came after two Turkmen members of the Iraqi parliament, from the Turkmen Front, demanded the court to look into the legality of the Kurdish referendum, especially in the Kurdistani or disputed areas such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, a statement from the court explained.
The aforementioned areas are claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.