Iraqi parliament removes Kurdish governor of Kirkuk

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Baghdad, Sep 14 (IANS) The Iraqi parliament on Thursday voted with majority to remove the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk province from his post, the Iraqi official television reported.

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.

Kareem, a Kurd, has made several controversial decisions in Kirkuk, including raising the Kurdish flag in Kirkuk city and supporting the independence referendum of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The Kurds want areas including the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk as well as parts of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahudin to be incorporated into their territory, a move fiercely opposed by the Arabs, Turkmens and Baghdad.

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On June 7, the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on September 25.

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

The neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries.

A Kurdish leading party on Thursday rejected the decision of the move.

“The Iraqi government is punishing the Kurdistan region. The dismiss of Kirkuk governor is illogical, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) strongly rejects this decision,” Sa’di Ahmed Biera, PUK spokesman said in a statement.

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