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Iraq court won’t rule on MPs' participation in poll

IRAQ COURT WON’T RULE ON MPS PARTICIPATION IN POLL

Iraq's Federal Court has rejected a parliamentary request to rule on whether or not the participation of Iraqi Kurdish MPs in last month's regional poll violated the constitution.

"The court is not competent to deliver a verdict -- or give an advisory opinion -- in this regard," it said in a Wednesday statement broadcast on Iraqi state television.

"We have therefore dismissed the request [by parliament] as the issue remains outside our jurisdiction," the statement added.

Iraq's Federal Court is tasked mainly with adjudicating disputes between Iraq's federal and provincial governments. It is also responsible for ruling on the constitutionality of proposed legislation and interpreting provisions of Iraq's national charter.

Early last month, parliament formally asked the court to rule on whether or not the participation of Iraqi Kurdish MPs in last month's referendum on Kurdish regional independence violated the constitution.

Earlier, Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri had asked two parliamentary committees to provide the names of all MPs who took part in the poll with a view to suspending their membership in the assembly.

Iraqi Kurds hold 53 out of 328 seats in Iraq's parliament. How many of them cast ballots in last month's poll, however, remains unclear.

On Sept. 25, Iraqis in areas controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) -- and in areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, the KRG's administrative capital -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq's central government.

According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq's fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Along with a raft of other retaliatory measures, Iraq's Council of Ministers on Monday said legal procedures were now underway against all KRG employees involved in conducting the regional poll.

In the referendum's immediate aftermath, Baghdad also moved to ban all international flights into KRG-controlled areas and closed all foreign diplomatic missions based in the region.

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