Iraqi parliament removes Kurdish governor of Kirkuk

Iraqi parliament removes Kurdish governor of Kirkuk

Earlier in the day, the parliament received a demand from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asking the lawmakers to vote to remove Najm al-Din Kareem from his post as governor of Kirkuk province, the state-run Iraqiya Channel said.

"I will stay in office", he told Reuters.

Ankara has warned Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that there will be a "price to pay" for its insistence on holding an independence referendum later this month, calling on the administration in Arbil to think again.

In particular, Turkey, which has long battled Kurdish insurgents within its own borders, fears the referendum could encourage independence for its Kurdish minority.

Kirkuk - a province contested by Baghdad and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen - decided at the end of August to take part in the controversial referendum.

At the same time, the fragile relationship between Israel and Turkey could be strained over Israel's support for Kurdish independence.

There are fears a highly public vote for independence could detract attention from the war against Islamic State and stir up hostilities between the Iraqi government and Kurdish separatists.

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The people of KRG, especially Kirkuk, will not be bound by the parliament's decision, a presidential statement said, adding the Kirkuk governor was elected to office and approved by the provincial council.

"The escalating tactics this week by the Iraqis are causing a large public backlash, and will strengthen the Kurdish referendum enormously", Zebari said.

Kalin on Thursday said: "There will absolutely be consequences for this referendum decision", without elaborating further.

Zebari said on Thursday that the vote would still be held in Kirkuk.

Iraq's parliament on Tuesday voted down the plan in a session that prompted a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers.

Asked whether parliament had the right to dismiss Kareem, Suhail referred to an article in Iraq's constitution which parliament used as the legal basis for the vote.

"The president of the Kurdistan region has made it clear that the referendum will be held", including in the disputed territories. "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.

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