Turkey warns Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum "will pay the price"

Iraq Takes Similar Approach to Separatist Challenge as Spain

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked the Iraqi parliament on Thursday to hold a vote on removing the governor of Kirkuk from office, the parliamentary speaker's office said.

Iraq's parliament voted on Thursday to sack the governor of oil-rich Kirkuk over his decision for the northern province to vote in a Kurdish independence referendum opposed by Baghdad.

Kurdish leaders will study a western delegation's plan to delay the autonomous region's planned referendum on independence, according to a statement from the Kurdish presidency.

Ankara has warned Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that there will be a "price to pay" for its insistence on holding an independence referendum later this month, calling on the administration in Arbil to think again.

Iraqi Kurdistan has effectively been a semi-autonomous state since the fall of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago, but support for full independence has always been opposed by Turkey, Iran and Syria, who fear it could fan separatist uprisings among their own ethnic Kurds. But the ethnically mixed city also has Arab and Turkmen populations.




"The right [to remove the governor from office] belongs to the people of Kirkuk, not the Iraqi parliament", the statement read.

The non-binding poll set for September 25 faces strong opposition from Turkey as well as from Iran, which fear it will stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizable Kurdish minorities. "That is the only body that can remove him".

'Barzani's referendum decision is a historic mistake. He refused to give details.

The vote is nonbinding, but Kurdish officials hope a strong victory will kick-start negotiations with the Baghdad government on independence.

"This is unlawful. I have the support of the government council, I have the support of the people, we are here and we will continue", he said.

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