Kurdish referendum ruled unconstitutional by Iraqi Federal Court

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Iraq's top court yesterday declared the Kurdish north's independence referendum in September to be unconstitutional, firing a new salvo in the political crisis with the autonomous region.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, researcher and expert in global politics, Masoud Abdul Khaleq said: "There have been arrangements made for the annulment of the results of the referendum by the parties of the dissolved referendum council, [specifically members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani and its allies in the Patriotic Union and the Islamic Union], by signing a pledge to cancel the results of the vote, provided that this position is not broadcast to prevent embarrassing the Kurdish people".

A statement said the Supreme Court "rendered a decision declaring unconstitutional the referendum held on September 25, 2017 in Iraqi Kurdistan. and cancelling all the consequences and results".

Kurdish officials have repeatedly criticized the Federal Government of Iraq for violating over 50 articles in the Constitution of Iraq and treating the people in the Kurdistan Region as second-class citizens, an accusation Baghdad rejects.

The court had already ruled on November 6 that no region or province can secede and the Kurdistan Regional Government said last week it would respect that verdict.

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"We need a third party present during talks between Erbil and Baghdad to ensure the Iraqi Constitution is respected and implemented", the Kurdish Premier added. Parliament in Baghdad is now reviewing the federal budget for the coming year, including the allocation for the autonomous Kurdish region. September's referendum was initiated by then Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe.

Barzani at the beginning of November announced he was stepping aside, having lost nearly all of the territory disputed between Kurdish capital Arbil and Baghdad.

Iraqi government forces launched a major operation in Kirkuk on October 16 and took control of its oil fields and a strategic military base without any armed clashes.

The verdict came as a response to a request by the Baghdad government to end the "misinterpretation" of the articles of the Iraqi constitution.

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