01:19 GMT12 August 2020
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    Iraqi Kurdistan's Independence Referendum (53)

    Nearly 90 percent of voters in Iraq's Kirkuk province that is contested by both Baghdad and Erbil could have cast their ballots in support of Iraqi Kurdistan's independence at the recently held referendum, Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    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.

    In August, the council of Kirkuk voted in favor of the province’s participation in Iraqi Kurdistan's independence plebiscite. This decision incited an uproar in Baghdad, with the Iraqi parliament later voting for the resignation of the governor of Kirkuk, who supported holding the referendum in the disputed 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.

    Iraqi Kurdistan's Independence Referendum (53)
    referendum, independence, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq, Kirkuk
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