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Kirkuk governor sacked over Kurd independence vote

Iraqi PM says fate of 39 Indian workers unknown

Sixty-five of the sixty-eight parliamentarians present at the sitting in Erbil voted in favor of the referendum, Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported.

By an overwhelming majority of deputies present, Iraq's Kurdish regional parliament on Friday passed a resolution to hold the September 25 referendum planned by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

The referendum has been opposed by Baghdad because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and distract the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants by Iraqi forces.

"But we will hold our referendum without an alternative and whatever happens, happens", he emphasized.

The prime minister said he is expecting to see new developments regarding the issue after the U.N.'s possible involvement.

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 global support at a news conference in Irbil.

Iraqi lawmakers authorized Abadi this week to "take all measures" to preserve national unity before the independence referendum.

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it added.

To remind, Masoud Barzani has recently announced that the referendum on independence scheduled for 25 September will not be postponed and he is ready to start a dialogue with Baghdad.

The governor of Kirkuk was sacked by the federal parliament earlier this week over his support for a referendum.

"There is no other way to guarantee that genocide will never be repeated", Khoshnaw told the assembly earlier, referring to the persecution of the Kurds and their expulsion from areas such as oil-rich Kirkuk under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

But Kurdish region President Masud Barzani has said the vote is necessary because "all other bids" to secure full Kurdish rights "have failed".

Kirkuk is home to sizeable Arab and Turkmen populations and lies outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region.

"The escalating tactics this week by the Iraqis are causing a large public backlash, and will strengthen the Kurdish referendum enormously", Zebari said.