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Iraq Orders Arrest of Kurdish Independence Election Officials

  • VOA News

FILE - A man looks at a banner supporting the referendum for independence of Kurdistan in Erbil, Iraq, Sept. 24, 2017.

An Iraqi court on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for several officials tied to the recent referendum for Kurdish independence.

A spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said the court issued arrest warrants for the referendum commission chairman and two of his aides for "violating a valid court ruling, which considered the independence vote invalid."

The supreme court ruled Sept. 25 that the referendum vote would violate Iraqi law, but organizers carried out the election anyway.

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favor of a non-binding independence referendum. Leaders said they hoped it would serve as the beginning of negotiations, but the government in Baghdad strongly rejected the vote.

The Iraqi government responded to the election results by severing ties with the region and instituting an international flight ban in and out of Kurdish airports. At the same time, neighboring countries Turkey and Iran threatened to close their borders to oil exports and implement economic sanctions on the Kurds.

The Kurds and the Iraqi government have long-running disputes over oil revenues and who controls several key cities in the northern part of the country.

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