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Baghdad Prosecutes Organizers of Kurdistan Independence Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi Kurdish students attend the first day of the new school year in Irbil on September 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED

Baghdad, Irbil – The Iraqi judiciary decided Wednesday to prosecute the Kurdish officials responsible for organizing the independence referendum on September 25.

Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar said the judiciary ordered the arrest of the chairman of the vote’s organizing commission, Hendren Mohammed, and its members.

The Council acted on a request from the National Security Council headed by Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, added Bayraqdar.

Mohammed was quick to denounce the judiciary’s order, considering it “a political decision which has no legal or constitutional basis.”

The Kurdistan elections commission “functions in line with the province’s laws under orders from its chairmanship and the recommendation of Kurdistan’s parliament which are considered official institutions by the Iraqi Constitution,” Mohammed told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The judicial order came as Kurdistan’s Security Council on Wednesday warned of attacks by Iraqi forces on the territory.

The council said it had been receiving “dangerous messages” that Iraqi forces – including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and the militarized federal police – were preparing for “major attacks” on Kurdistan from areas south of Kirkuk and northern Mosul.

But Iraqi government sources denied that Baghdad had any intention of launching a military operation in Kurdistan, describing the accusations as “baseless rumors.”

Baghdad had condemned the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan as unconstitutional, and the country’s Supreme Court in September ordered that it be suspended.

The Iraqi federal government and Iraqi Kurdistan have been at loggerheads over the vote, in which an overwhelming majority of 92 per cent supported independence.

Afterwards, Baghdad imposed a ban on international flights to and from Kurdistan’s airports, saying flights would resume if the central government assumed control of the territory’s airports.