Jan Kubis, the UN special representative to the secretary-general in Iraq, meets with Nouri al-Maliki in 2016 prior to the Mosul offensive. Photo: Dawa Party office
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has rejected a UN-sponsored initiative aimed at finding a solution on disputes between Baghdad and Erbil regarding the Kurdish independence referendum.
Maliki, who released a statement in his role as the head of Iraq’s ruling State of Law Coalition on Wednesday, said that they reject an initiative by the UN envoy to Iraq because it contains sections that are “unconstitutional.”
“We reject holding the referendum in Kurdistan and the disputed areas. We refuse its results and whatever that leads to since it is in violation of the constitution in an explicit way,” the statement read, adding that Erbil has to respect the ruling by the Iraqi Supreme Court that temporarily suspended the vote.
It said that the initiative was presented by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, and they reject in particular a section that calls for a time limit for talks, something he called a “pre-condition.”
It said they rejected the initiative because it “contains some implicit sections that are unconstitutional.”
President Masum held a meeting with Barzani on Wednesday in Sulaimani.
Barzani said on Tuesday that Baghdad has only three days to come up with an alternative in place of the referendum that leads to a state for Kurdistan, or the vote will go ahead as scheduled on September 25.
He explained their problem is not with the international community, which has offered to mediate between the regional and central governments, but “We have to reach an agreement with Baghdad.”
What can take the place of the referendum is “a bilateral agreement between Erbil and Baghdad, if the agreement materialized in a way that could take the place of the referendum. And then the international community, the US, Europe, backs that agreement and give guarantees that this agreement will be implemented,” said Barzani.
“But I will be honest with you, Baghdad has not reached that level yet,” he added, giving the central government a deadline of “two to three days” to reach such an agreement.
If no viable alternative is offered, “it is impossible to postpone the referendum,” Barzani said.
He stressed that the purpose of the September 25 referendum “is to tell the world that we want independence.” So any alternative must achieve the same objective.
Barzani said that if Baghdad agrees to provide an alternative, then the people of Kurdistan will “hold a celebration on September 25.”
Maliki's statement on Wednesday added that they are ready to hold “serious talks” with Erbil within the framework of the Iraqi constitution and without any preconditions.
It urged all Iraqi parties to work on a “national initiative” for a way out to the dispute, an initiative that must receive the support of the Iraqi Prime Ministry and the Iraqi parliament.
While it praised the mediatory role by the UN, it said such an initiative will turn the talks and cancel out the “national role” in their efforts to solve their outstanding issues.
Last updated at 3:06 p.m.