ERBIL (Sputnik) – Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum slated for September does not contradict the country's constitution, even in terms of vote in regions disputed by Baghdad and Erbil, the spokesman for the autonomous region's government told Sputnik.
"If you talk about legality of referendum in so called disputed areas falling within the article 140, it is far more legal and constitutional to have the referendum in those areas because the Iraqi constitution itself is asking for the referendum to be held but unfortunately as I said it’s never been implemented by Baghdad," Safeen Dizayee said.
Article 140 refers to the referendum of the status of the region of Kirkuk and other disputed territories in Iraq and whether they should become part of Iraqi Kurdistan. The article was supposed to be implemented by the end of 2007, but the referendums were never held.
The need to fight the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) led to the change in the order of priorities and made the timing of Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum inconvenient, the spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government added.
Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region within Iraq, is preparing for the referendum on independence, which is scheduled for September 25.
"It has been argued that it's about the timing. Many countries, political leaders say… they don’t officially reject the referendum, but they say the timing [is problematic], maybe while we are all fighting Daesh, this may distract our efforts from fighting Daesh. Three years, four years ago, actually, the issue of independence and referendum was on the table, but when Daesh came, the priorities changed," Safeen Dizayee said.
He added that the lack of help from Baghdad during Kurdistan's attempts to counter the negative impact of Daesh activities led to the increased interest in referendum.
Baghdad has sharply criticized Kurdistan's plan to hold the referendum, with Vice President Nouri Maliki saying secession would be unconstitutional. The US State Department has objected to the timing of the referendum, saying that it would divert the people's attention from the fight against terrorists. US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh Brett McGurk said the referendum should not be held in September because Daesh still remained a threat.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that the will of the Kurdish people would be expressed peacefully and all repercussions would be taken into account.