Iraq dismissal of Kirkuk governor “effectively ends cooperation with Baghdad”

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Kirkuk - Iraq's parliament on Thursday voted to dismiss the Kurdish governor of the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, in a move that could escalate tensions ahead of a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani responded by describing the move as “effectively ending the cooperation with Baghdad”

Iraq's Kurds plan to hold the vote on September 25 in three governorates that make up their autonomous region as well as disputed areas like Kirkuk that are controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad. Late last month, Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in the referendum. Iraq's central government has rejected the polls as unconstitutional and illegal.

Lawmaker Hussein al-Maliki said parliament voted to dismiss Kirkuk Governor Najmiddin Karim based on consultations with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Mohammed al-Karboli, another Arab lawmaker, said Karim "threatens the country's unity and civil peace in Kirkuk."

All Kurdish members boycotted Thursday's session, while 187 mainly Arab and Turkmen legislators voted in favor, the two lawmakers said. The governor has the right to appeal the decision, al-Karboli added.

Shortly after the session, the Kirkuk governor rejected the parliament decision in a statement, describing it as "invalid" and insisting that he'll stay in office.

"The parliament decision ... doesn't mean anything to Kirkuk and its governor who is still in office," said the statement.

(The Associated Press)

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