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This file photo shows Kirkuk Provincial Council in session.
The provincial council in Iraq’s ethnically mixed and oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk has voted to take part in late next month's Kurdish independence referendum irrespective of Baghdad government’s strong opposition to the planned vote.
On Tuesday, 22 of the 24 present councilors in the 41-member Kirkuk council voted in favor of holding the referendum.
Speaking to journalists afterwards, Kirkuk governor Najm Eddine Karim described the vote as a “historic event.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the vote by Kirkuk provincial council as a wrong move, adding that the planned referendum is illegal and worthless.
Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi also lambasted the vote as “illegal and unconstitutional.”
Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi
“Provinces that don't belong to the semi-autonomous region (of Kurdistan) can't impose decisions without the federal government's approval, and Kirkuk is one of these regions,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has denounced Kirkuk provincial council’s decision as “a serious violation of the Iraqi constitution.”
The ministry said in a statement that the decision was made amid the boycott of local Arab and Turkmen blocs, describing the move as “a new episode in the series of mistakes.”
It further highlighted that September 25 referendum is a mistake itself, explaining that persistence on treading a “dangerous path” will neither serve the Middle East region nor Iraq.
This file photo shows a view of the Turkish Foreign Ministry building in the capital Ankara. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
The result of the Kurdish independence vote will not be accepted by the international community, and will not contribute to the establishment of peace and stability at this critical juncture in the region, the Turkish Foreign Ministry pointed out.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run TRT Haber television news network on August 16 that Iraq's Kurdistan region plans to hold an independence referendum next month will lead to "civil war" in Iraq.
Hoshyar Zebari, a close adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, told Reuters on August 12 that Kurdish authorities were determined to hold the referendum on September 25 irrespective of all objections.
In June, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described as untimely the decision by Barzani to hold the referendum.
“We have a constitution that we've voted on, we have a federal parliament and a federal government…The referendum at this time is not opportune,” Abadi said on June 13.
Iran has also expressed opposition to the “unilateral” scheme, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region is part of the majority Arab state.

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