Iraq’s federal supreme court ruled on Tuesday that a one-year extension of the term of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region parliament in 2022 was unconstitutional and undermined democracy in the country, its top judge Jassim Mohammed said.
All decisions issued by the regional parliament from the date of its term extension on Oct. 9, 2022 were therefore considered null and void, Mohammed said.
Kurdistan, which has enjoyed wide autonomy from Baghdad since the 1990s, has in the past ignored rulings by the federal supreme court, including a Feb. 2022 ruling that deemed its oil and gas law unconstitutional.
With its capital in Erbil, Kurdistan is home to more than 5 million people out of Iraq’s 43 million population and produces about 450,000 barrels of oil per day, though exports were halted in March.
Baghdad-Erbil relations have been fractious for years with disagreements over energy resources and disputed territories.
The ruling could raise tensions amid discussions over a draft federal budget that the Kurdistan Regional Government has said includes changes it opposes.
Ruling Kurdish parties, including the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), agreed to the 2022 extension after failing to reach consensus on a new electoral law.
They pledged to hold elections in November 2023, but have yet to reach consensus on new regulations.
On May 22, KDP and PUK lawmakers brawled inside the regional parliament’s chamber during discussions on electoral regulations, a sign that agreement remained far off.