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Iraq’s Supreme Court Orders Suspension Of Kurdish Referendum

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters march in Irbil on September 13 in support of the planned independence referendum.

Iraq’s Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of an independence referendum in the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan scheduled for next week.

The Supreme Court in Baghdad said in a September 18 statement that it has "issued a national order to suspend the referendum procedures...until the resolution of the cases regarding the constitutionality of said decision."

It is not clear if Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq would abide by the court's ruling.

Baghdad has repeatedly condemned the referendum as unconstitutional.

The United States and the United Nations have called on the Iraqi Kurdistan region to hold off the vote amid concerns that it could contribute to instability as Iraqi forces fight the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on September 17 warned that the planned September 25 referendum "would detract from the need to defeat" IS and to rebuild cities captured from the extremists.

Countries in the region, including Iran and Turkey, have also have also vehemently opposed the referendum amid fears that it could encourage their Kurdish minorities to break away.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa