Kurdish referendum unconstitutional, rules Iraqi Federal Court

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Old land mines from Iran Iraq war kill injure eight people in Kurdistan in 2017

Kurds voted on September 25 to break away from Iraq - the vote was deemed "illegal" by Baghdad officials.

Monday's legal move was the latest stage in a crisis sparked by the referendum, which resulted in a resounding "yes" vote for independence in the Kurdish area.

Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq, which on Monday ruled the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) referendum "unconstitutional".

Responding to the court's decision, the Kurdistan region's prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, said on Monday: "The federal court reached its verdict on independence without the Kurdistan's regional government's input".

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Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on September 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.

The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq's central government and its regions, including Kurdistan.

A deputy from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic party, Fares al-Briykakani said that the court decision "opens the door for real dialogue between Baghdad and Irbil", adding that the ruling was binding.

The court's rulings are final and can not be contested by any higher judicial authorities.

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In a statement, the ministry said: "This decision has confirmed the illegitimacy of the referendum, which has been stressed all along by the majority of the worldwide community, including Turkey".

A statement from Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said: "We call upon everybody to ... avoid taking any step which violates the constitution and law".

Erbil said last week it respects the earlier court decision and called for constructive dialogue, signalling compromise after the central government imposed an worldwide flight ban on Kurdistan. September's referendum was initiated by Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe.

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