Members of a Kurdish Peshmerga battalion showing their ink-stained fingers in front of a Kurdish flag after voting in the Kurdish independence referendum in Erbil. File photo: AFP / Safin Hamed
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has asked the Iraqi government to act on the Federal Court ruling that cancelled the Kurdistan referendum on independence.
Monday’s court ruling demands that "all unjust procedures, outcomes and consequences be cancelled that were taken by the Iraqi government and the parliament against the Kurdistan Region solely in response to the referendum," KRG spokesperson Safeez Dizayee on Thursday said in a published statement interpreting the court verdict.
He named some of Baghdad’s punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region: the international flight ban, slashing the budget share, and efforts in the Iraqi parliament to punish Kurdish MPs who voted for independence.
Other measures announced by the Iraqi parliament on September 27, including the deployment of federal forces to disputed areas, must be reversed, he demanded.
The government spokesperson did not indicate whether the KRG would also respect the ruling, as Baghdad has demanded.
The court ruled on Monday that the September 25 independence referendum is "unconstitutional" and therefore its results and "all of its consequences" are null and void.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that he welcomes the ruling.
The Kurdistan Region parliament has rejected the court ruling, deputy speaker Jaafar Imniki told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
In remarks also published by the official website of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Imniki took a similar stance to former President Masoud Barzani.
He said the Federal Court was established before the constitution came into effect and, as such, does not have the power to decide on the constitutional validity of the referendum.
"The decision by the Federal Court with regard to annulling the referendum of the Kurdistan Region is political, has no constitutional basis. The Kurdistan parliament rejects it," he stated.
Imniki headed parliament's September 15 session that voted to hold the referendum. The motion states that the government must consult the parliament with respect to the result of the plebiscite.
The KRG has so far offered to freeze the results of the referendum in exchange for unconditional dialogue with Baghdad.
Dizayee criticized Abadi of “mere words” without action on issues like committing Baghdad to pay the salaries of KRG state employees.
The KRG said on November 1 that it is willing to send Baghdad its list of state employees collected over the past year through biometric registration aimed at combatting ghost employees and double entries. The final payroll includes 1.2 million employees with a cost of $772 million a month.
Dizayee said Thursday that Baghdad has so far refused to accept the biometric list.
Abadi has said several times that Baghdad would pay state salaries, but he has questioned the KRG’s numbers. He said on Tuesday that an audit would have to be done.
The KRG spokesperson also demanded Abadi and his government use the official name of the "Kurdistan Region," as any other "invented word for the Kurdistan Region is clearly unconstitutional and we reject it."
Abadi said defended the official use of “the provinces of the Kurdistan region.”
"There are provinces in the Kurdistan Region," he said in a press conference on Tuesday. He added though that the official name of "Kurdistan Region," remains in place.
The people of Kurdistan with all of its components are unanimous in their intent to "protect the constitutional unity of the Kurdistan Region and will never compromise in this regard," Dizayee said.
Both Erbil and Baghdad insist that the constitution is on their side. The KRG argues that the central government violated almost one third of the constitution, thereby pushing Kurdistan to hold the referendum.
Erbil's main objections are Baghdad's failure to implement Article 140, addressing the disputed areas, and the draft 2018 budget bill that attempts to cut the KRG's share of the 2018 budget and downgrade the official status of the Kurdistan Region.
Abadi insists that his demands, including extending federal authority to the 2003 borders and Kurdistan Region’s international borders, are constitutional and Erbil must cooperate.
Dizayee also criticized Baghdad’s failure to pay Peshmerga salaries. The Kurdish forces are part of the official Iraqi defense system, yet the post-Saddam Hussein government in Baghdad has never covered their payroll, even after Abadi praised their contribution to the war against ISIS.
He provided the latest figures for the Peshmerga casualties in the war on ISIS: 1,082 killed, 10,233 injured, and 62 missing.
Last updated at 11:41 to add comments from the Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan parliament.