Top Iraq court rules Kurdish referendum unconstitutional

    Iraqi Kurdish students of the Salahaddin University hold posters of Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani during a protest in his support in Arbil, the capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, on October 30, 2017. Long-time Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, the architect of the referendum, announced on October 29, 2017 he is stepping down after it led to Iraq's recapture of almost all disputed territories that had been under Kurdish control. / AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED

    The Supreme Federal Court also rules that results from 25 September vote were void, a decision that cannot be appealed

    Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court has ruled that the Kurdish independence referendum held on 25 September was unconstitutional and that voting results were void, a court spokesman said.

    Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.

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

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

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

    It also said it respected a previous decision insisting on Iraqi unity, which could be a basis for dialogue.

    Iraqi parliamentarians in Baghdad are currently reviewing the federal budget for the coming year, including the allocation for the autonomous Kurdish region.

    September’s referendum was initiated by then Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe.

    At the beginning of November, Barzani announced that he was stepping aside, having lost almost all of the territory disputed between Kurdish capital Erbil and Baghdad.

    The Kurds also lost all of the oil resources in Kirkuk province that could have ensured the viability of a hypothetical Kurdish state.


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