Iraq’s Supreme Court on Monday issued an order to stop the independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region slated for September 25, officials said.
In a statement, the court said the poll, which was convened by regional Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, had been suspended until they could establish if it was constitutional.
“The Supreme Court ordered the suspension of the procedures of the referendum set to take place on September 25 until it issues a ruling on complaints contesting the legality of the vote,” Iyas al-Samouk, the head of the court’s media office, was quoted as saying by Efe news.
The decision came a day after the UN declared that the referendum would endanger the fight against the Islamic State terror organisation and called for a dialogue between the autonomous region and Iraq.
Tensions have risen as a result of the scheduled vote, in which the Iraqi Kurdistan region and areas recently liberated from the IS and held by the Peshmerga forces are to participate.
The secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, warned that Iran would close its borders with the region if it became independent from Iraq.
Turkey, which has in the past expressed its rejection of the referendum, on Monday began a series of military manoeuvers on its border with Iraqi Kurdistan, though it assured that they were part of an operation against terror organisations.
Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed regional autonomy since the 1990s, a status bolstered in the 2005 Constitution that defined Iraq as a federal state.
On Friday, the Kurdish Parliament unanimously ratified the referendum amid pro-independence rallies across the region.