Iraq court orders arrest of Kurd referendum organisers

#KurdishVote

Iraqi government promised earlier this week to pursue referendum leaders in wake of the 25 September vote

Members of a Kurdish Peshmerga after voting in the referendum in Erbil on 25 September 2017 (AFP)
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Wednesday 11 October 2017 12:39 UTC
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An Iraqi court has ordered the arrest of the chairman and two other members of the commission that organised the 25 September vote for Kurdish independence, a judicial official said.

The court in Baghdad acted in response to a request from the National Security Council (NSC) headed by the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar told AFP.

The court issued warrants against chairman of the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (KHEC), Hendren Saleh, and members Yari Hajji Omar and Wahida Yofo Hermez.

A member of the KHEC media committee confirmed the news to Middle East Eye, but said it was "stupid" of the courts to think that their warrants mattered in Kurdistan.

In an statement on Monday announcing a series of measures designed to increase pressure on the autonomous region which voted overwhelmingly to split from Iraq, the NSC said that the country's general prosecutor had launched a legal case against the referendum officials.

In addition to proceeding with the vote, the officials were being sought for legal action because they violated an 18 September Supreme Court ruling which called for the vote's suspension.

The NSC also said the government would seek to take control of Kurdistan-based mobile phone operators and move their headquarters to Baghdad.

The statement did not name the networks involved, but they are believed to be Korek and Asiacell. 

The government, according to the statement, will also continue to pursue an ongoing probe into oil revenues which were deposited in Kurdistan’s financial institutions and officials’ bank accounts.