Iraqi Parliament Votes Against Kurdistan Independence Referendum

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BAGHDAD (Alliance News) - The Iraqi parliament voted on Tuesday to reject the legitimacy of a planned referendum on independence by the autonomous region of Kurdistan, urging the government in Baghdad to take the necessary measures to ensure the unity of the country.

Parliament "rejects any move that might destabilize security and society" of the country after it "achieved victory against the Islamic State militia."

During the session, 204 lawmakers voted rejecting the referendum, while around 30 Kurdish lawmakers withdrew from the session.

The parliament includes 328 seats.

Parliament urged the government to take "all necessary measures to ensure the unity of the country."

Baghdad has repeatedly criticized Kurdistan's decision to hold a referendum, scheduled to take place on September 25.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he is against the referendum and has been engaged in talks with various factions, including the Kurds, to keep the country united.

"The referendum is a threat to the unity of Iraq, guaranteed by the constitution, and a threat to regional and civil peace since it violates the Iraqi constitution," Parliament said in a statement following the vote.

"Including the disputed areas in the referendum also violates the constitution," it added, referring to the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, which will take part in the referendum.

President of Kurdistan Masoud Barazani arrived in Kirkuk on Tuesday, shortly after the Parliament session.

The provincial council in Kirkuk, one of the disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad, voted last month to take part in the referendum.

Turkey, the US and other Western powers have also expressed opposition to the referendum.

Around 5.5 million people are eligible to vote inside the Kurdish region - which is divided into Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Duhok - as well as Kirkuk province, areas in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh and Iraqi Kurds living abroad.

The Iraqi Kurdish region was created in 1992, and calls for independence have gained impetus following a 2003 US-led invasion, which toppled former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

By Kadhem al-Attabi and Nehal El-Sherif

Copyright dpa