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Iraqi Parliament approves budget amid Kurdish boycott

The director of Erbil airport, Talar Faiq Salih, speaks during a press conference at the airport, in the capital of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, on February 27, 2018. The international flight ban imposed on the autonomous Kurdish Region by the Iraqi prime minister has been extended by three months. (AFP)
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Parliament on Saturday approved a long-delayed budget, in a vote boycotted by Kurdish lawmakers due to their region’s diminished allocation.
The $88 billion budget cut the share of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to 12.67 percent, down from 17 percent previously, Reuters reported.
“We boycotted the vote and there are proposals for Kurdistan to withdraw from the entire political process in Iraq over the unfair treatment we have received,” Kurdish MP Ashwaq Jaff was reported as saying.
Hussam Al-Eqabi, a member of the parliamentary Finance Committee, told Arab News that the budget means that the government now “has a legal base to cover the expenses of its work.”
“We had no other choice but voting (on the budget). It is a very important law … the consequences of spending money without law is very dangerous,” he told Arab News.
Parliament was meant to pass the budget before the start of the 2018 financial year in January.
But the country’s three main blocs  had serious issues with the government’s proposal.
In a press conference held after immediately after Parliament's approval of the budget, Kurdish lawmakers called on the “Kurdish leadership” to boycott the political process in Baghdad.
“The withdrawal and return to Erbil is the solution and the leadership of the region has to take that position,” Adel Nuri, a Kurdish lawmaker, told reporters. “Only, in this case Baghdad will step down and the international community will intervene.”
The Kurds overwhelmingly voted to secede from the rest of Iraq in an independence referendum in September, which was opposed by Baghdad.

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