ERBIL, Iraq: A vote by Iraq’s parliament to reject the results of this month’s Iraqi Kurdish independence vote was non-binding, a high-ranking Kurdish official told Reuters on Tuesday.
“The Kurdish parliament will definitely have a response to the resolution when it convenes on Thursday,” said Hoshyar Zebari, former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani.
Zebari said Kurdish lawmakers would convene for the first time since October 2015.
Hours earlier, Iraq’s parliament voted on Tuesday to reject an Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum planned for September 25, authorising the prime minister to take all measures to preserve Iraq’s unity.
Speaker Salim Al Juburi said the vote required the government to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue” with Iraqi Kurdish leaders.
“Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority,” Mohammad Al Karbouli said.
Kurdish lawmaker Majid Shingali said Kurds would reject the decision.
“This decision has no value and we will not implement it,” he told Reuters.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi’s government had previously rejected the referendum as unilateral and unconstitutional.
The United States and other Western nations fear the September vote in Iraqi Kurdistan could ignite a new conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighbouring countries, diverting attention from the war against Daesh militants in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey, along with Iraq, Iran and Syria, also opposes the idea of Iraqi Kurdish independence, fearing separatism could spread to their own Kurdish populations.
Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of the First World War, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East and left Kurdish-populated territory split between modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.