Iraq criticizes plan of Kurds independence referendum

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-09 22:28:50|Editor: xuxin
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BAGHDAD, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi government on Friday criticized announcement by the Kurdish regional government to set a date to hold a referendum on independence in the autonomous region of Kurdistan and the disputed areas.

The government's first critic came two days after Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish region, announced the referendum on Sept. 25 following a meeting with the Kurdish political parties in Arbil, the capital city of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

The government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said the governance in Iraq relies on the constitution as a legal and political reference to determine the relationship between the federal government and the Kurdistan region.

"Any decision concerning the future of Iraq must take into account the constitutional provisions, it is an Iraqi decision and not one party alone," the state-run Iraqiya television quoted the spokesman of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office as saying.

"All Iraqis must have a say in defining the future of their homeland. No single party can determine the future of Iraq in isolation from the others," Hadithi said.

On Thursday, the Iraqi Turkoman Front (ITF), an umbrella body for several Turkoman parties, rejected the Kurdish announcement of setting a date for referendum.

The Kurdish move is a "clear violation of the Iraqi constitution which emphasizes the unity of Iraq," the ITF said in a statement.

Disagreements between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government have been high for years, as the ethnic Kurds consider the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin provinces as disputed areas and want them to be incorporated into their region, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs and Turkomans and by Baghdad government.

Meanwhile, Turkey on Friday said the decision of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to hold an independence referendum was "a grave mistake."

"The referendum will be of no benefit to the KRG or Iraq and will increase instability and produce negative outcomes," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because of the timing as the Iraqi forces are in fighting against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.