Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The high court in Iraq on Monday said a Kurdish independence referendum scheduled for next week must be suspended.
The vote, scheduled to take place Sept. 25, would not immediately have initiated a declaration of independence of the northern Iraqi region, but would have prompted negotiations with the government, Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani said.
Baghdad has said the vote would have sparked chaos and distracted from the country's fight against the Islamic State. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the army would intervene if a "yes" vote caused violence.
Iyas Samuk, a spokesman for the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq, told Turkey's Anadolu Agency that the Iraqi government was concerned about whether the referendum was constitutional. The vote was suspended until the court could hear all complaints about the legality of possible independence.
Kurdistan earned autonomous governance in Iraq's 2005 Constitution, though it is still part of the country. The Kurdistan Region was created in an agreement with Iraq in 1970.