Kirkuk governor declares overnight curfew after Kurdish independence vote

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SHAFAQNA – The head of police department in Iraq’s northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk says the governor has imposed a curfew following the closing of polls in a controversial referendum on the independence of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region from the central government in Baghdad.

Brigadier Sarhad Qader said the security measure was adopted on Monday night to “protect the civilians and the communities” in the multi-ethnic city, located 230 kilometers (143 miles) north of Baghdad.

Qader says the curfew will be lifted at 6 a.m. local time (0300 GMT).

On August 29, 22 of the 24 councilors present in the 41-member Kirkuk council voted in favor of holding the Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the vote by Kirkuk provincial council as a wrong move, adding that the planned referendum was illegal and worthless.

Iraqi government spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, also lambasted the vote as “illegal and unconstitutional.”

On September 14, the Iraqi parliament voted on the dismissal of 68-year-old Najmiddin Karim as the governor of Kirkuk province.

The provincial council, in return, condemned the decision; with its head Ribwar al-Talabani claiming only the council had the power to remove Karim.

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