KIRKUK (Iraq) (Sputnik) — Residents of the oil-rich Kirkuk province took part in the independence vote on Monday despite the harsh criticism of the federal government.
"The voter turnout in Kirkuk exceeded 70 percent. I expect that 90 percent of the voters supported independence. There are not only Kurds but also Turks, Arabs, and Christians among them," Karim, who is also one of the leaders of the pro-independence Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, said.
Earlier in the day, the Iraqi parliament granted the country's prime minister the permission to deploy forces to Kirkuk. However, Karim pledged that local security forces would not allow the armed forces into the province.
A referendum on the independence of Kurdistan was held in the region on Monday, including territories disputed by the region and the federal government, such as Kirkuk. The preliminary results show that more than 90 percent of the voters supported independence.