Iraq top court suspends Kurdish referendum

Iraq top court suspends Kurdish referendum

Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court [official website, in Arabic] on Monday temporarily suspended [press release, in Arabic] the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) [official website] independence referendum vote [NPR report] that was set to take place September 25.

The move follows [JURIST report] the Council of Iraq’s [official website] vote on Tuesday that denied [official summary, Arabic] the referendum petition of Kurdistan to permit its independence. The council voted to keep Kurdistan in its region despite ongoing tensions [JURIST op-ed] in order to maintain the region’s stability.

Despite the order, it is unclear whether the local government will pursue the referendum.

In an interview with the Associated Press [AP report], Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi [BBC backgrounder] stated [transcript]:

[O]ur position is that it is unconstitutional, it is illegal, there is nothing that will be taken seriously out of it. … And especially when it’s done with a vision that there is a problem within the region itself, the Kurdish region. The parliament hasn’t been held for 22 months, so there is a constitutional, legal crisis inside the KRG and this is a very, very bad move for the Kurdish population, the Iraqi Kurdish population.

The Prime Minister also announced that the government is prepared to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region’s referendum results in violence.