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Kurdistan votes 'yes' in independence referendum

[JURIST] The Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC) of Kurdistan announced [Kurdistan report] the results of Monday's independence referendum vote Wednesday. In total, 92 percent of the voters voted "Yes" to secede from Iraq and create an independent Kurdistan. About 72 percent of eligible voters in the Kurdistan region participated in the vote.

Of the 3.3 million votes cast, 2,861,471 voted "Yes" and 224,468 voted "No." Another 170,611 votes were considered to be "spoiled votes," and another 9,368 were blank votes. A total of 98,945 votes came from registered voters who were located outside of the Kurdistan region.

Iraq and neighboring countries have opposed the referendum. The US State Department [official website] has expressed [press release] disappointment that the vote was conducted. They also stated that the move will increase instability in the region, which can be exploited by the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Although the referendum does not actually grant Kurdistan independence, Kurdistan's leadership stated it will help in negotiations with Baghdad regarding the independence. In total, there are an estimated 40 million Kurds throughout the world.

The vote came less than two weeks after the Council of Iraq voted against [JURIST report] allowing the referendum vote. Shortly after the Council of Iraq's vote, the Iraqi Parliament voted [JURIST report] to oust the governor of Kirkuk due to the referendum vote.

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