Kurdistan Regional Government Accepts Nullification of Independence Referendum

Flag of Iraqi Kurdistan
A boy rides a bicycle with the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan in Tuz Khurmato Photo: Reuters

The government of Iraqi Kurdistan said in a statement on Tuesday that it would accept the decision by Iraq’s supreme court to nullify the results of the region’s independence referendum.

“As we, in the Kurdistan Region, have always emphasized on finding solutions to disputes between the federal Authorities and the Kurdistan Region through constitutional and legal means, and based on our known position which welcomes all relevant initiatives … we respect the interpretation of the Federal Supreme Court of the First Article of the Iraqi Constitution,” the statement said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government said the court’s decision should be the basis for beginning an “inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes.”

Last week, the Iraqi Supreme Court ruled that the country’s constitution does not allow any region to secede, and rejected the outcome of the September 25 independence referendum.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected an earlier offer from the KRG to “freeze” the results of the referendum. Mr. Abadi on Friday called on the KRG to abide by the court’s decision, and said the government was moving to impose federal authorities.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region has been under pressure from Baghdad since KRG officials held an vote to decide whether or not to form an independent state. According to the electoral commission, 92 percent of voters backed the non-binding measure, saying they wanted to leave Iraq.

In response, Baghdad moved to solidify its standing in disputed areas, including taking control of the oil-rich Kirkuk province where the vote had been held over the protests of some local officials.

KRG leader Masoud Barzani resigned in the aftermath of the vote, leaving his nephew, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani as well as the parliament and the judiciary to run the government as of November 1.