Kirkuk governor sacked over Kurd independence vote


The Iraqi parliament earlier this week voted against plans by leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq to hold the non-binding September 25 referendum.

The White House issued a statement following the Kurdish vote, calling on the Kurds to call off the vote and "enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad".

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing".

On Friday, however, Mr Barzani dismissed alternatives offered by the United States to avert the referendum. This includes parts of the northern province of Nineveh and the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, captured by Kurdish peshmerga after the Iraqi army collapsed in 2014 as the "Islamic State" swept through large swaths of the country.

The regional parliament's decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the United States, which has provided critical military aid to the KRG's fight against Islamic State, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum. On Thursday, Iraq's parliament voted to remove Karim from his post, a decision he summarily dismissed.

During a rally in Dohuk, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani reaffirmed the upcoming independence referendum would be held according to schedule on Sep. 25.

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"The referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside", he added. It is also clear that the Kurdish region will not become independent on the day following the referendum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country will hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide its response to the planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

Urging new talks between Iraq's central Baghdad government and the KRG, the office in a statement said the referendum would risk stability in the region.

Lawmaker Omed Khoshnaw from the Kurdistan Democratic Party called the referendum a "message of peace" to Baghdad and neighbours.

In recent years, there have been tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan over power-sharing, oil revenues and territorial disputes.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.