Kurdish independence referendum rejected by Iraqi Parliament

Iraqi Kurds have been pushing for full independence for several months

Iraqi Kurds wave Kurdish flags and hold burning torches during a gathering to show support for the upcoming independence referendum

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kurdistan's push for independence from Iraq has hit a roadblock after the region's proposed referendum was blocked by the parliament in Baghdad.

The referendum is due to take place on September 25, but the Iraqi parliament has said lawmakers have authorised the Iraqi Prime Minister to preserve his country's unity.

"Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority," lawmaker Mohammed al-Karbouli was quoted by Reuters as saying.

However Kurdish lawmaker Majid Shingali struck a note of defiance after the vote, saying "this decision has no value and we will not implement it."

The Iraqi Parliament's decision means the referendum remains illegal, and could create conflict between Baghdad and the Kurdish community in northern Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan is already an autonomous region, having been recognised as such in Iraq's 2005 constitution. However it is not a fully-fledged independent state in its own right, and this has been a major focus of discontent within the Kurdish community over recent years.

The major Kurdish parties were due to hold a meeting today (September 12) to re-start the regional Parliament, which was suspended by the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party in October 2015.

The parties wish to reopen the Parliament so lawmakers can pass legislation to convene the referendum. It has been argued that, without such legislation, the referendum will lack legitimacy.