Iraqi parliament votes against Kurdish independence referendum

Baghdad [Iraq]: The Iraqi Lawmakers on Tuesday voted against the independence referendum planned by Iraqi Kurdish leaders on September 25 and called on the Prime Minister Haider Abadi to negotiate with them for the unity of the country.

A parliamentary majority in Baghdad voted in opposition to the Sept. 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.

The non-binding referendum will see residents of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region controlled by KRG to vote on whether or not to declare formal independence from Baghdad.

“Parliament obliged Prime Minister Haider Abadi to take all measures that preserve the unity of Iraq and start a dialogue to address the related problems between Baghdad and Erbil,” Anadolu News agency quoted lawmaker Ali al-Safi as saying, referring to the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.

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

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.

“Turkmen members of Kirkuk’s provincial assembly chose not to take part in Tuesday’s meeting,” ITF Vice-President Hasan Turan said.

He went on to point out that the region’s Turkmen stood in strong opposition to the KRG’s planned referendum on Kurdish regional independence, slated to be held later this month.

“We have made it clear that Turkmen don’t want this referendum to be held — neither in Kirkuk nor in other disputed areas,” Turan said.

The Iraqi government said that the Kurdish independence referendum vote will adversely affect the fight against the ISIS or Daesh terrorist group, which still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq.

The United States and other regional countries like Iran and Turkey are opposed to the referendum as that could destabalize Iraq. (ANI)