Iraq’s supreme court has ordered the suspension of next week’s referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, as legal and political pressure mounted on the Kurds to call off the vote. “The supreme court has issued the order to suspend organising the referendum set for 25 September … until it examines the complaints it has received over this plebiscite being unconstitutional,” it said. Ayas al-Samouk, a court spokesman, said it had received several complaints, as a parliamentary source said at least eight lawmakers had called on the court to intervene on constitutional grounds.
The office of the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said it had also filed a complaint against the referendum in the oil-rich autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on constitutional grounds.
There was no immediate reaction from the Iraqi Kurdish leader, Massud Barzani, who called the referendum and has so far resisted pressure from Baghdad, Iraq’s neighbours Turkey and Iran, and from the United States and its western allies, all opposed to the poll.
The British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said he would try to persuade Barzani at a meeting on Monday in the Kurdish capital of Erbil.