Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki called on his government and regional bodies to "impose a total siege" on Iraq’s Kurdish region which is holding a referendum on independence despite wide regional and international opposition.
"We all confirm the unconstitutionality of the referendum as it targets the unity of the country," Maliki told an anti-referendum rally on Monday in Baghdad.
He went on to say such a move would have “serious consequences” for the future of Iraq in particular and the region in general.
Maliki also on the Iraqi government to “take all necessary measures to end these illegal practices and to halt dialogue with the advocates of the referendum and to impose a comprehensive boycott over the region”.
“The advocates of the referendum are responsible for the upcoming crises, conflicts and wars," he added.
He called on the Iraqi people to "thwart the Israeli-backed secession plan and to stand firmly against this project”.
He also reiterated his call to the Iraqi government to "protect the people of Kirkuk province, and the areas disputed there among Arabs, Turkmen, Christians, Shabak, Sabians and Ezidis".
Monday’s non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad – vote on whether to secede from Iraq.
Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the U.S. and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
The KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a Yes win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.