Iraq’s parliament has voted to remove the governor of Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk from office, according to legislators present at the vote.
Thursday’s decision to remove Najm Eddine Karim followed parliamentarians’ rejection of Kurdish plans to hold an independence referendum on Tuesday.
Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, requested the removal of Karim as leader of the oil-rich province, said Hussein al-Maliki, member of parliament.
All Kurdish legislators boycotted Thursday’s session, while Arab parliamentarians voted in favour of Karim’s deposition, he said.
A number of political parties have protested against the vote, claiming the signatures required to remove Karim from office are not valid, he said.
“[They say] Karim will remain in office despite what the Iraqis think and that this vote [on independence] will go ahead.”
Kirkuk’s provincial council voted last month to take part in the referendum on independence, which is scheduled to be held on September 25.
Ownership of Kirkuk has long been disputed between Iraq and the Kurdish authorities.
Though not part of the recognised Kurdistan region in Iraq, the province has a large Kurdish population and is under Kurdish-military control.
Kurds have pushed for their own state since the conclusion of World War I when Kurdish-populated areas were split between modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria as boundaries across the Middle East were redrawn.
The Kurdish parliament is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss the planned ballot on independence.