Iraqi lawmakers on Thursday voted to remove Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim from his post following a request by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
Kirkuk’s provincial council had announced on Aug. 29 its decision — at a session boycotted by Turkmen and Arab members — to include the disputed province in an upcoming referendum on Kurdish regional independence in northern Iraq.
The decision sparked uproar and calls by member of parliaments and politicians to remove Karim from office.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has strongly condemned the parliament’s decision saying it violated the constitution.
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 right [to remove the governor from office] belongs to the people of Kirkuk, not the Iraqi parliament,” the statement read.
Slated for Sept. 25, the non-binding referendum will see residents of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region vote on whether or not to declare formal independence from Baghdad.
Baghdad rejects the planned poll, saying it will adversely affect the fight against the Daesh terrorist group, which still maintains a significant presence in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi government also believes that holding the poll would violate the terms of the country’s constitution.
Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, saying the region’s stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.
Washington, for its part, has voiced concern that the poll could serve as a “distraction” from other pressing regional issues, especially the fight against terrorism and the stabilization of post-Daesh Iraq.
Historically comprised of Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds, oil-rich Kirkuk remains disputed between Masoud Barzani’s Kurdish Regional Government and Iraq’s central government.
Source: Anadolu Agency