Lawmakers seek to oust Iraqi president over Kurdish independence vote

By Sara Shayanian  |  Sept. 26, 2017 at 10:48 AM
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Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Some Iraqi legislators are attempting to oust Iraqi President Fuad Masum over the controversial Kurdish independence referendum.

Masum is being accused by opposing lawmakers of not upholding his oath of office to keep Iraq united.

"Masum was sworn in to maintain the unity of Iraq and his non-compliance with that means he failed to abide by his oath," one lawmaker told the Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, while collecting signatures to remove the Kurdish president from power.

Other leaders suggested that Kurdish legislators might also have to leave parliament.

"There is no need for the presence of Kurdish MPs in parliament since they supported the [independence] referendum," another lawmaker said.

In response to the referendum, held Monday, Iraqi officials deployed troops to several disputed areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government, as well as other land being fought over between Baghdad and Erbil.

Early estimates Tuesday indicated that more than 90 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in support of independence -- with turnout estimated at 71 percent.

Kurdistan, which gained autonomy as part of its 2005 constitution, is still part of Iraq. The referendum would officially make Kurdistan its own nation -- a controversial decision for countries like Iraq that do not wish to part with oil-rich regions like Kirkuk.

Several countries -- including the United States, Iran, and Turkey -- have spoken out against the Kurdish referendum, calling it a distraction from more important matters like the fight against terrorism.

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