BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s top court on Monday temporarily suspended the northern Kurdish region’s referendum on independence that’s due next week, a decision that put further pressure on the Iraqi Kurds to call off the controversial vote.
The Supreme Court in Baghdad released a statement saying it “ssued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures … until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision.”
The move is just the latest in a number of rulings from Iraq’s central government attempting to stop the vote. On Sept 12 Iraq’s parliament voted to reject the controversial referendum and on Sept 14 the lawmakers voted to dismiss the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province’s Kurdish governor who supports the referendum.
Despite strong opposition from Baghdad, regional leaders and the United States — a key ally of Iraq’s Kurds — Kurdish officials have continued to pledge the vote will be held. It is not immediately clear if the local government in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region would abide by Mondays’ court ruling.
The vote was due on Sept. 25 in the three provinces that make up the region, as well as disputed territories claimed by both the Kurdish region and Baghdad.
“The decision today by the court is very clear. We hope our Kurdish brothers see the truth of this decision,” Salah Alwan, adviser to the chairman of Iraq’s parliament in Baghdad said Monday. “It is clearly the chairman’s position that Iraq stay an undivided, single country.”
Haidar Mawla, a Shiite parliamentarian in Baghdad said regardless of whether it is carried out, he doesn’t believe the vote will hold strong significance. “Internal rejection, regional, international rejection: I think the picture is very clear that this referendum cannot do much,” he explained.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Saturday that Iraq is prepared to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region’s referendum results in violence.
If the Iraqi population is “threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily,” al-Abadi said.
“Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing,” the White House said last week in a statement appealing to the Kurds to call off the vote.
The Kurdish region has repeatedly ignored calls from Baghdad that the vote is unconstitutional.
The leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish region have said they hope the referendum will push Baghdad to…