Iraqi security forces stand guard outside the parliament in Baghdad. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi parliament has rejected the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in a vote on Tuesday that also authorizes the prime minister to take measures against the Kurdish move.
The referendum issue was put on the agenda upon the call of 80 MPs.
The parliament has authorized Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take any measures against the September 25 referendum process taking place in the Region and Kurdistani areas outside of the Region’s administration but under its control.
The decision by the Iraqi parliament stipulated that the Kurdistan referendum is a “threat” against the unity of Iraq and that while the Iraqi constitution allows a referendum on a number of issues, such as Article 140 to address the disputed areas, it maintained that the constitution does not include a section that permits a referendum on separation.
Iraqi MPs voted on three points.
First, they voted to reject the referendum that will take place in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas, including Kirkuk, and to commit “all relevant authorities to take every measure to cancel it.”
Second, “the Iraqi government will be responsible for preserving the unity of Iraq, taking all measures and decisions that include the protection of the unity of Iraq.”
And third, they voted to commit “the Iraqi government and the Regional government to begin serious negotiations to solve outstanding issues based on the constitution and the laws in place.”
Sirwan Sereni, a Kurdish MP from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) faction in the Iraqi parliament told Rudaw that the petition which was voted on and approved by the parliament contains “military measures” against the move.
He said they were not consulted with or informed of the petition in the first place, and when a hearing given to the petition “we were not allowed to comment on it.”
Ashwaq Jaf, another Kurdish MP from the KDP faction , accused Turkmen MPs of stirring the motion.
All the Kurdish factions in the Iraqi parliament boycotted the vote.
Jaf derided the parliament ruling saying “the decision will not go beyond the doors of parliament” and said that putting the matter on the agenda “violates the parliament’s bylaws.”
Baghdad has on several occasions rejected the Region's independence referendum calling it "unconstitutional."
Despite mounting pressures, the Kurdistan Region is determined to hold the referendum as President Masoud Barzani has repeatedly stated in meetings with local players and international delegates.