Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Kirkuk governor Najm al-Din Karim has ordered a driving curfew in the province as voters turn out for a referendum on independence from Iraq that stoked tensions and fears of violence.
In a press conference, Karim also urged citizens not to fire festive air gunshots upon the declaration of voting results, labelling the directives “precautionary measures”.
“I call upon the citizens to avoid violence…and to make sure the referendum ends and is celebrated quietly,” the governor stated.
Kurds headed to voting stations on Monday to partake in a plebiscite on independence from the central government in Baghdad, a move objected by the Arab-led government in Baghdad, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and regional powers Iran and Turkey.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly vowed to take legal action if Erbil proceeded with the vote.
Kurdistan gained actual autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.
Baghdad and Erbil have for long disputed sovereignty over a number of regions, most notably the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, besides contending over petroleum exports’ revenues from those regions.