Alwaght- Iraq’s parliament voted on Tuesday to reject a Kurdish independence referendum.
The Iraqi lawmakers while voicing opposition to the referendum planned by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) scheduled for Sept. 25, authorized Prime Minister Heidar al Abadi to take all measures to preserve Iraq’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 said.
Kurdish lawmaker Majid Shingali said Kurds would reject the decision.
Members of parliament opposing the referendum called on the Baghdad government to negotiate with the semi-autonomous Kurdish government.
Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri said the vote made it incumbent on the government to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialog” with Kurdish officials.
“Parliament obliged Prime Minister Haider Abadi to take all measures that preserve the unity of Iraq and start a dialogue to address the related problems between Baghdad and Erbil,” lawmaker Ali al-Safi said, referring to the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region. A parliamentary majority in Baghdad voted in opposition to the Sept. 25.
The vote prompted Kurdish lawmakers to walk out of the session, which was attended by 204 of parliament’s 328 members.
The non-binding referendum will see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad.
Al-Abadi’s government had previously rejected the referendum as unilateral and unconstitutional.
The referendum plan has also drawn a strong rebuke from Iraq’s neighbors, including Turkey and Iran.
Speaking in June, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, “The principal and clear position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to support Iraq’s territorial integrity and solidarity.” He added that, “The Kurdistan region is part of the Republic of Iraq.”
Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that a plan by Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to hold an independence referendum will lead to "civil war" in the conflict-stricken Arab country.