Kirkuk governor sacked over Kurd independence vote

Q&A Kirkuk Gov. Najmaldin Karim

Q&A Kirkuk Gov. Najmaldin Karim

The United States and Western allies pressed Kurdish leaders yesterday during a meeting in Duhok, northern Iraq, to postpone the referendum on the independence of Iraq's Kurdistan region saying it was "fraught with grave dangers".

The planned vote has faced strong opposition from the federal government in Baghdad as well as neighbouring Iran and Turkey, which fear it will stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.

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

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"To this date, we have not received an alternative that can take the place of the referendum", Barzani told a pro-referendum rally in Amedi on Friday, Rudaw reported. "It would be the biggest injustice", the prime minister noted.

While providing no details on the alternative, Brett McGurk, U.S. special presidential envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition said at a news conference in Irbil he had presented it to Kurdish leaders.

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

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Jaafar Aimenky, the region's vice president who chaired the September 15 session, announced that the nonbinding referendum would go forward after an overwhelming number of regional lawmakers voted in favor.

Barzani also criticized the Iraqi parliament's voting to reject the referendum and the sacking of the governor of Kirkuk. "This is a very risky process", U.S. envoy to the multinational coalition battling Daesh, Brett McGurk, told reporters after a delegation that included the United Nations and British representatives met with Barzani.

"There is no other way to guarantee that genocide will never be repeated", Khoshnaw told the assembly earlier, referring to the persecution of the Kurds and their expulsion from areas such as oil-rich Kirkuk under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

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Iraq's Kurdish region has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since the US imposed a no-fly zone over northern Iraq after the 1990 Gulf War. "That is the only body that can remove him".

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