Iraqi Kur­dis­tan says it will re­spect court’s se­ces­sion ban

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

IR­BIL, Iraq: Iraqi Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties said Tues­day that they would ac­cept a court de­ci­sion pro­hibit­ing the re­gion from se­ced­ing, sig­nal­ing a new phase in ef­forts to restart stalled ne­go­ti­a­tions over its fu­ture.

Iraq’s Kurds voted over­whelm­ingly for in­de­pen­dence in a ref­er­en­dum in Septem­ber, de­fy­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad, which had ruled the bal­lot il­le­gal, as well as neigh­bor­ing Tur­key and Iran, which have their own Kur­dish mi­nori­ties.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment said Tues­day that it would re­spect the Nov. 6 rul­ing by the Supreme Fed­eral Court, which de­clared that no Iraqi prov­ince could se­cede.

The rul­ing was a re­sponse to a re­quest from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to put an end to any “wrong mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of the con­sti­tu­tion and as­sert the unity of Iraq, a court spokesman said af­ter­ward.

“We be­lieve that this de­ci­sion must be­come a ba­sis for start­ing an in­clu­sive na­tional di­a­logue be­tween [Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties in] Ir­bil and Bagh­dad to re­solve all dis­putes,” the KRG said in a state­ment.

The con­ces­sion marks the Kurds’ lat­est at­tempt to re­vive ne­go­ti­a­tions with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, which im­posed re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures fol­low­ing the in­de­pen­dence vote.

They in­cluded an of­fen­sive by Iraqi gov­ern­ment forces and the Iran-backed Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Pop­u­lar Mo­bi­liza­tion) forces last month to wrest back con­trol from the KRG of the oil city of Kirkuk and other dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries.

Bagh­dad has pre­vi­ously said the Kurds must an­nul the vote be­fore any ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al­Abadi had urged the north­ern semi­au­tonomous Kur­dish re­gion abide by the court’s de­ci­sion.

The court is re­spon­si­ble for set­tling dis­putes be­tween Iraq’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the coun­try’s re­gions and prov­inces, in­clud­ing the Kur­dis­tan re­gion.

Its de­ci­sions are fi­nal and manda­tory for all par­ties ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion, how­ever it has no mech­a­nism to en­force its rul­ing in the Kur­dish re­gion. – to

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