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Iraqi Top Court Rules Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional

Iraqi Top Court Rules Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional

Monday, 20 November, 2017 - 09:30
An Iraqi Kurdish man shows his ink-stained finger after voting in the Kurdish independence referendum in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Iraq's Supreme Federal Court declared on Monday that a referendum held on Kurdish independence in September was unconstitutional and that the results of the vote were void.

"The Federal Court issued the decision to consider the Kurdish region's referendum unconstitutional and this ruling is final," a court spokesman said. "The power of this ruling should now cancel all the results of the referendum."

The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and regions including Kurdistan. The verdict cannot be appealed.

Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.

The court had already ruled on Nov. 6 that no region or province can secede, and the Kurdistan Regional Government said last week it would respect that verdict.

Iraqi government forces launched a surprise offensive on Oct. 16 in retaliation. Government forces managed to wrest back control of the oil city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories.

September's referendum was initiated by then Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe. At the beginning of November, he announced he was stepping aside after the Kurds lost the territories.

Last month, the UN Security Council urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks.

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