Maliki rejects UN-sponsored initiative on planned KRG referendum
BAGHDADIraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has rejected an initiative sponsored by the United Nations regarding a planned independence referendum in northern Iraq, saying that it contains several elements that are against the country’s constitution.
The U.N.-sponsored initiative had aimed at finding a solution to the disputes between Baghdad and Arbil on the issue of the Sept. 25 referendum for the independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Maliki released a statement as the head of Iraq’s ruling State of Coalition on Sept. 20, saying they rejected the initiative by the U.N. envoy to Iraq because it “contains some implicit sections that are unconstitutional.”
“We reject holding the referendum in Kurdistan and the disputed areas. We refuse its results and whatever that leads to since it is in violation of the constitution in an explicit way,” the statement read, adding that Arbil “has to respect” the ruling by the Iraqi Supreme Court that temporarily suspended the vote, news portal Rudaw reported on Sept. 20.
Maliki’s statement added that they are ready to hold “serious talks” with Arbil within the framework of the Iraqi constitution and without any preconditions.
Also on Sept. 20, Iraqi President Fuad Masum held a meeting with KRG leader Masoud Barzani in Sulaimani.
A day earlier, Barzani said Baghdad has only three days to come up with an alternative in place of the referendum or the votes will go ahead as scheduled on Sept. 25.
Barzani said their “problem is not with the international community,” which has offered to mediate between the regional and central authorities.
“We have to reach an agreement with Baghdad,” he added.
What can be in place of the referendum is “a bilateral agreement between Arbil and Baghdad, if the agreement is materialized in a way that could be in the place of the referendum. And then the international community, the U.S. and Europe backs that agreement and give guarantees that this agreement will be implemented,” said Barzani.
“But I will be honest with you, Baghdad has not reached that level yet,” he added, giving the central government a deadline of “two to three days” to reach such an agreement.
If no viable alternative is offered, “it is impossible to postpone the referendum,” Barzani said.
Saying that the purpose of the referendum “is to tell the world that Kurdish people want independence,” Barzani noted that any other alternative must achieve the same objective.
The KRG leader added that if Baghdad agrees to provide an alternative, then “the people of Kurdistan will hold a celebration on Sept. 25.”