Iraq removes Kirkuk governor from office

Iraq removes Kirkuk governor from office

The province is claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Iraqi lawmakers authorised Abadi this week to "take all measures" to preserve national unity before the independence referendum.

Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Iran and Syria - oppose the referendum, fearing that it could fuel separatist moods among their own Kurdish minorities.

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.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the referendum is "a natural right".

"I will stay in office", Kareem told Reuters, hours after the parliamentary vote. He refused to give details.

The Iraqi Kurdish government's "insistence... despite all friendly advice will definitely have a cost", the ministry said, advising it to turn back from an "erroneous approach". But the ethnically mixed city also has Arab and Turkmen populations.

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Turkey - which for over three decades has battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in its southeast - is strictly opposed to any move to a Kurdish state anywhere in the region.

Kareem has long riled the federal government.

Iraqi lawmakers say the referendum will consolidate Kurdish control over several disputed areas, including oil-rich Kirkuk.

Israel supports the creation of a Kurdish state.

Although Israel has official relations with just three Middle Eastern countries - Turkey, Jordan and Egypt - it has long had warm relations with Iraq's Kurds, who are Sunni Muslim, making the official endorsement ahead of the September 25 vote gives the measure added weight.

"This referendum is ill-timed and ill-advised, it is not something we can support", he said, regarding the US' backing for the Sep.

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