Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Iraqi Parliament Rejects Plan For Kurdish Independence Referendum

Iraqi Parliament Rejects Plan For Kurdish Independence Referendum

Earlier the parliament in Baghdad authorized the prime minister to "take all measures" to preserve Iraq's unity.

Iraqi parliament speaker Salim Al Juburi, a Sunni Arab, said the vote required the Baghdad government to "take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue" with Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

A parliamentary majority in Baghdad voted in opposition to the September 25 referendum planned by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) prompting Kurdish lawmakers to walk out of the session, which was attended by 204 of parliament's 328 members.

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"We have a genuine desire to keep the Kurds as a component of Arab society", Abul-Gheit said, urging the KRG to resolve its longstanding differences with Baghdad through dialogue.

Kurdish MPs reportedly walked out of the session before the vote and issued statements afterwards rejecting the decision.

The United States and other Western nations fear the September vote in Iraqi Kurdistan could ignite a new conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighboring countries, diverting attention from the war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

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The referendum has faced strong opposition from Iran and Turkey, which fear the vote will encourage separatist movements among their own large Kurdish minorities.

Speaking to the BBC Kurdish president Massoud Barzani, said he wanted to reach an agreement with the central government if the Kurdish people opted to secede.

"Despite the respect both sides have for each other, there is still a trust deficit between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish region", he added.

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In another development, the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) on Tuesday boycotted a meeting held in Kirkuk between KRG President Masoud Barzani and ethnic and religious groups based in the city.

A senior Kurdish official dismissed the vote as non-binding though an Iraqi lawmaker said it would be published in the official gazette after approval from the Iraqi presidency.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the referendum planned for September 25 would violate Iraq's constitution.

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On February 3, 2016, Barzani said the "time has come" for the country's Kurds to hold a referendum on statehood.

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