(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
The Iraqi parliament voted on Tuesday to reject the referendum over the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region scheduled for September 25.
A number of Kurdish lawmakers withdrew from the parliament session in wake of the announcement.
“Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority,” Mohammed al-Karbouli said.
Kurdish lawmaker Majid Shingali said Kurds would reject the decision.
“This decision has no value and we will not implement it,” he told Reuters.
Speaker Salim al-Jabouri stated that the Iraqi MPs’ vote on rejecting the referendum “shows the parliament’s keenness on the unity of Iraq’s land and people.”
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is now bound to take the necessary measures that would preserve Iraqi unity and kick off serious dialogue to resolve pending issues between Baghdad and the Kurdish region, he added in a statement.
He explained that the constitution stipulates the cases that a referendum can be held for and the Kurdistan vote is not one of them.
The Kurdish government’s decision to call for a referendum angered the Iraqi government that deemed the vote unconstitutional.
The US and several European countries also expressed their opposition to the referendum, raising fears that Kurdish populations in nearby countries would also demand a similar vote.
Irbil stressed however that it has no other choice but the vote to guarantee the rights of the Kurdish people.
The Kurds themselves are divided over the referendum despite the unanimity over independence. Some believe that the timing of the vote, set by President Masoud Barzani, is not appropriate given the economic crises in the autonomous region. Others believe that the referendum decision should be made by the parliament, which has been suspended for over two years.