The arrest warrants apply to members of the Kurdistan Region's electoral commission. The vote was "contrary to the decision of the high federal court”. Kurdish leaders said "Yes" provided mandate to start negotiations on secession. Baghdad considers the vote in conflict with the Constitution.
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - An Iraqi federal court has ordered the arrest of Kurdistan officials involved in overseeing a referendum last month on the region's independence.
The arrest warrants, issued by Baghdad's Rusafa investigation court, apply to members of the Kurdistan Region's electoral commission.
On 25 September, the autonomous region in northern Iraq held a referendum on independence, which ended with an overwhelming victory in favor (over 90% yes). The vote was also held in the controversial territory of Kirkuk.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi last month demanded the suspension of the controversial vote.
Kurdish leaders later insisted the referendum was legitimate.
On Wednesday, the Rusafa court said "legal measures" would be taken through the office of the public prosecutor against those Kurdistan officials it said were involved in supervising the vote.
A spokesman for the court, Abdulstar Bayraqdar, said the warrants followed a lawsuit filed by the country's National Security Council which argued that the referendum was "contrary to the decision of the high federal court".
Following the vote on 25 September, Kurdish officials said 2.8 million people living in the three provinces that form the Kurdistan Region, as well as "areas of Kurdistan outside the region's administration", had voted in favour of independence.
Kurdish leaders said the "Yes" result provided them with a mandate to start negotiations on secession with the central government in Baghdad and neighbouring countries.
However Mr Abadi has called for the referendum, in which 92% of voters backed secession, to be annulled.
Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.
In Iraq, where they make up an estimated 15-20% of the population of 37 million, Kurds faced decades of repression before they acquired autonomy in 1991.
The two sides exchanged artillery fire early Monday, south of the city. Baghdad aims to retake military bases and oil fields which Kurdish peshmerga fighters took in 2014 during the fightback against Isis. Three major oil fields produce some 250,000 barrels per day, accounting for 40 percent of Iraqi Kurdistan's oil exports.
The President of Iraqi Kurdistan confirms his intention to go to the polls and to battle for the future of Kirkuk. The city must be a "symbol of coexistence of all ethnicities". The "Yes" victory does not automatically involve the declaration of independence, but will strengthen negotiations with the central government.
The celebrations took place yesterday in the holy city, to remember the killing of Mohammed's grandson. Over 25,000 agents assigned to the security of the faithful. Participants chanted slogans and songs against the Kurdish leader Barzani and the "separatist conspiracy in northern Iraq".
High turnout among population, even Christian, and without any force or pressure to vote. AsiaNews source: a vote that calls for a redrawing of regional power balance, after Saddam, extremist violence and Isis. The "courageous dialogue" demanded by the Chaldean patriarch for a political solution. Fears over Erdogan’s “grave” threats.
Polls opened at 8 am local time in the three provinces of the autonomous region. First results expected tomorrow morning. Baghdad has already announced "measures" to defend the unity of the country, including a Kurdish oil blockade. Iran stops flights to and from Kurdistan. Ankara extends the mandate of Turkish troops to Iraq (and Syria).