The Iraqi parliament voted to oust Kirkuk governor Najm al-Din Karim on Thursday amid rising Kurdish tensions over a planned independence referendum [official summary, Arabic]. Following the council of Iraq’s [official website] vote against the referendum petition Tuesday, parliament authorized Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to “take all measures” to preserve national unity [BBC report], which included dismissing the Kirkuk governor. Karim expressed his unwillingness to step down as governor and commitment to gaining independence, saying: “the referendum will go on as planned.” For now, the referendum itself is still scheduled for September 25 and Kirkuk will have no vote on the matter.
Kikuk, under Bahdad’s control and claimed by the Iraqi Kurdistan region, has long sought separation from Iraqi. The referendum, which is scheduled for vote on September 25, is part of Kirkuk’s attempt to gain independence from Iraq [Arab News, report]. The council voted to keep Kurdistan in its region, thereby denying Kurds a vote on the referendum, despite its ongoing tensions [JURIST op-ed] to maintain the region’s stability. The counsel also denied the petition for the reason that it was unconstitutional.