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Iraqi prime minister calls for total annulment of Kurdish independence vote

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks at a meeting with US Secretary of State (unseen) in Baghdad on October 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called for the total annulment of the recent Kurdish secession referendum in northern Iraq, apparently rejecting the Kurdish leader’s recent decision to merely freeze the results of the unconstitutional vote.

“We will accept nothing but the annulment of the referendum and respect for the constitution,” Abadi’s office in Baghdad said in a Thursday statement.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced on Tuesday that it will freeze the results of the September 25 referendum and called for an immediate ceasefire and a cessation to all military operations in the northern region.

The KRG also proposed open dialog with Baghdad based on the Iraqi constitution.

The announcement came shortly after the parliament in the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan announced that legislative and presidential elections that were delayed due to the ongoing political stand-off with Baghdad would be held in eight months.

The development comes after weeks of simmering tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over the referendum which was held in defiance of the central government in Baghdad.

Much of the international community, particularly Iran and Turkey, opposed the vote, warning that the referendum would further complicate the security situation in Iraq that has been grappling with Daesh militancy in its north and west for the past three years.

Following the vote, the central government in Baghdad shut down flights in and out of the region and ordered a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

The Kurdish region further slipped into political uncertainty after Iraqi forces captured the disputed city of Kirkuk last week. The city and its surroundings, rich in oil and populated by Kurds, Arabs and Christians, have been at the heart of a long-running row between Erbil and Baghdad.

Gorran, the main opposition party to KRG President Masoud Barzani, issued a statement on Sunday, calling for the resignation of the Kurdish leader, who has held the region’s presidency since 2005. The opposition party said Barzani was responsible for the turmoil that followed the referendum.

Last week, Iraq’s judiciary also issued arrest warrants for three senior Kurdish officials, who were allegedly behind the contentious plebiscite. Iraqi Supreme Court has already ruled the referendum unconstitutional.

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