Ditch independence vote, West tells Kurds

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Ditch independence vote, West tells Kurds

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers voted earlier Friday to hold the referendum on September 25, in the face of bitter opposition from Baghdad and protests from neighboring Iran and Turkey, which fear it will fan separatism among their own Kurdish minorities.

Barzani's words came after U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition Against Daesh Brett McGurk urged the KRG leadership on Thursday to postpone the referendum amid a lack of worldwide support at a news conference in Irbil.

"This is a very risky process". "This referendum is not legitimate and we do not recognize it", said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Spokesperson Bulent Tezcan on Wednesday. He refused to give details.

The Kurdish region won autonomy in 2005 under a constitution that established a federal republic in Iraq.

The Iraqi government has rejected the referendum as unconstitutional, and the Iraqi parliament has authorized Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to "take all measures" to preserve the national unity of Iraq.

The move came after Iraq's parliament voted to remove the governor of Kirkuk, a staunch supporter of Kurdish independence.

"I will stay in office", he told Reuters.

"Do not listen to anyone, we are going to go to a referendum", he asserted. "The prime minister does not have the power to ask parliament to remove me".

Ankara expressed its support for the decision made in the Iraqi parliament Tuesday to oppose the independence vote, calling on the government in Baghdad to negotiate with the Irbil-based KRG.

Washington opposes the referendum on the grounds that it would weaken Arab-Kurdish joint military operations, which have helped send the IS group into retreat in both Iraq and war-torn Syria.

Iraqi lawmakers say the referendum will consolidate Kurdish control over several disputed areas, including oil-rich Kirkuk.

While attending a news conference in Irbil, McGurk said moving forward with the referendum on September 25 would be a "risky" move for Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region because the move lacked global support.He noted that Belgium, Britain, France and Iraq have jointly developed an "alternative plan" for the referendum.

The governor of Kirkuk was sacked by the federal parliament earlier this week over his support for a referendum. They regard the city, just outside their Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, as their historical capital. "This is a very risky process", United States envoy to the multinational coalition battling Daesh, Brett McGurk, told reporters after a delegation that included the UN and British representatives met with Barzani. "That is the only body that can remove him".

With the exception of Israel, nearly all Western countries friendly to the Iraqi Kurds have publicly opposed the Kurdish referendum.

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