Iraq referendum : Parliament votes to reject poll on Kurdish independence

Posted September 15, 2017

Iraqi parliamentarians have rejected the legitimacy of the vote and the central government in Baghdad which is strongly opposed to this move has said it will do everything possible to keep the unity of the country intact.

The referendum has been opposed by Baghdad because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and would distract the ongoing fight against the Islamic State by the Iraqi forces.

Ankara is also concerned about the presence of the Syrian Kurdish militia People's Protection Units (YPG) in the border area, fearing an autonomous Kurdish region could also emerge in northern Syria.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Thursday, said: 'We find the (Iraqi Kurdish) leadership's insistent stance regarding the referendum and its increasingly emotional statements worrying.

Though not part of the recognised Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the province has a large Kurdish population and is under Kurdish military control.

Kareem, a Kurd, has made several controversial decisions in Kirkuk, including raising the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk city and supporting the independence referendum of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The vote is nonbinding, but Kurdish officials hope a strong victory will kick-start negotiations with the Baghdad government on independence.

"He (Kareem) is an elected governor of the council of Kirkuk", said Hoshyar Zebari, a close adviser to President Barzani.

"The right [to remove the governor from office] belongs to the people of Kirkuk, not the Iraqi parliament", the statement read.

Karim said the US Envoy encouraged him to keep calm after the today's vote to remove him.

'Barzani's referendum decision is a historic mistake.

Hussein al-Maliki says that all Kurdish lawmakers boycotted Thursday's session, while Arab lawmakers voted in favor. He explained that the law for the Iraqi provincial election passed in 2008 stipulated that Kirkuk, unlike the rest of the Iraqi provinces, would not come under the authority of the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister. "The government has not been able to display a determined stance against the north Iraqi referendum", said main oppotion Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Bülent Tezcan on September 13.