The then Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani addresses a pro-independence rally in ERbil on September 22, 2017. File Photo: AFP/Safin Hamed
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan Region’s former president Masoud Barzani said the Iraqi Federal Court has no legitimacy to issue a ruling on the Kurdistan independence referendum and no such court can declare the votes of millions of people “unconstitutional.”
The Federal Court issued a ruling on Monday cancelling the referendum results after declaring the vote “unconstitutional.”
Barzani, who remains head of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said in a written statement on Monday evening that both the Iraqi government and the Federal Court are in violation of the Iraqi constitution.
“Everyone must know that there is no legal and constitutional basis that can consider the votes of three million people unconstitutional because the people themselves are the source of legitimacy, laws, and the constitution,” he stated.
“The decision by the Federal Court is unilateral, political, and has used the constitutional texts in the interest of some political parties,” Barzani added, saying that the court has turned a blind eye to violations of the constitution committed by the Iraqi government.
He explained that the Iraqi government violated 55 articles of the constitution, including failing to implement Article 140 to resolve the disputed areas and cutting the Kurdistan Region budget.
The man who led the bid for independence stressed that the constitution, as stated in its preface, is the guarantor of the “free union” of Iraq.
He said the Federal Court itself lacks legitimacy because it was established before the adoption of the current Iraqi constitution in 2005 and should have been replaced with a new Supreme Court, as per the constitution.
And he questioned why the court stayed silent when the Iraqi army and state forces were used against the people of Kurdistan to settle a political matter.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani earlier in the day said the Iraqi constitution must be fully implemented in order to have a stable Iraq.
“KRG’s stance is very clear,” Barzani told reporters. “Before and after referendum we have always said it that if the Iraqi constitution is implemented we’d have no issues with Baghdad, but the constitution is something that must be implemented in its entirety.”
“In Iraq too, they talk about the constitution but they only pick what they like. Iraq wasn’t ready to implement the constitution that’s why we had a referendum,” he added, noting that a third party may be required to help interpret the document.
Erbil has already stated that it respects an earlier ruling by the Federal Court issued on November 6 that stated the Iraqi constitution does not allow the separation of any part of the country. Kurdish authorities, however, ignored a court ruling in September suspending the vote.
Kurdistan held a vote on independence that saw nearly 93 percent support for leaving Iraq. Erbil has offered to freeze the result in return for open dialogue with Baghdad.
Baghdad is yet to respond to calls for negotiations with Erbil, though the international community, including the United States and the United Nations, among others, has pushed in this direction.