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Iraqi PM Demands Annulment Of Kurdish Independence Vote

A woman holds a flag during a gathering to support the Kurdistan independence referendum on September 21.
A woman holds a flag during a gathering to support the Kurdistan independence referendum on September 21.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is demanding that this week's referendum on independence for the autonomous Kurdish region be annulled.

"The referendum must be annulled and dialogue initiated in the framework of the constitution. We will never hold talks on the results of the referendum," Abadi told Iraqi lawmakers on September 27.

"We will impose Iraqi law in the entire region of Kurdistan under the constitution," he said.

The autonomous region’s election authorities later announced the results of the September 25 referendum, saying it passed with 92.7 percent support and turnout of more than 72 percent.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the parliament asked Abadi to send troops to the Kurdish-held Kirkuk region and take control of its oil fields.

"The government has to bring the oil fields of Kirkuk back under the control of the Oil Ministry," said a resolution passed by parliament and seen by Reuters.

Kirkuk, a multiethnic region, has been under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters since 2014, when the Iraqi Army fled in the face of Islamic State militants.

The Kurdish presence in the region prevented the oil fields from being captured by the militants.

The resolution called on Abadi to "issue orders for the security forces to deploy in the disputed areas, including Kirkuk."

The Kurdish regional government included Kirkuk, an area that is also home to Turkoman and Arab communities but has been historically claimed by the Kurds, in the independence referendum.

In a related move, Lebanon's and Egypt's national carriers said they will halt flights to the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, this week at the request of the Baghdad authorities.

The decision by Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir comes after Iraq's government threatened to ban international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan following the referendum.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa

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