Iraqi Kurdish women stand next to Kurdish flags during a gathering to show support for the upcoming independence referendum and encourage people to vote in the town of Akra, some 500 kilometres north of Baghdad on Sept 10, 2017. (SAFIN HAMED / AFP)
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi parliament voted Tuesday to reject the independence referendum of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region slated for Sept 25, lawmakers said.
The parliament decision states that the referendum is a "threat to Iraq's integrity which is guaranteed by the constitution.... in addition to the civil peace and the regional security," lawmaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said, reading from the resolution.
Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session before the vote and issued statements afterwards rejecting the decision.
Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority
Mohammed al-Karbouli, Sunni Muslim lawmaker
"Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority," Mohammed al-Karbouli, a Sunni Muslim lawmaker, said.
A senior Kurdish official dismissed the vote as non-binding though an Iraqi lawmaker said it would be published in the official gazette after approval from the Iraqi presidency.
"The Kurdish parliament will definitely have a response to the resolution when it convenes on Thursday," said Hoshiyar Zebari, former Iraqi foreign and finance minister and now a senior adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani.
Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leading figure and former Iraq's finance and foreign minister, said earlier in an interview with Xinhua that the referendum will be held on Sept 25, after all the official bodies in the region completed their preparations in all aspects of security and logistics.
On June 7, the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept 25.
The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because it comes as the Iraqi forces are in fight against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.