Iraqi Kur­dis­tan ref­er­en­dum: High turnout in in­de­pen­dence vote

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Erbil: Large num­bers of peo­ple have taken part in a land­mark vote on in­de­pen­dence for Iraq’s Kur­dis­tan re­gion, amid grow­ing op­po­si­tion both at home and abroad.

Votes are still be­ing counted, with a big “yes” vic­tory ex­pected.

Kurds say it will give them a man­date to ne­go­ti­ate se­ces­sion, but Iraq’s PM de­nounced it as “un­con­sti­tu­tional”. Neigh­bours Tur­key and Iran, fear­ing sep­a­ratist un­rest in their own Kur­dish mi­nori­ties, threat­ened to close bor­ders and im­pose sanc­tions on oil ex­ports. The ref­er­en­dum passed off peace­fully across the three prov­inces that make up the re­gion, and turnout was es­ti­mated at about 72 per cent, ac­cord­ing to the elec­toral com­mis­sion.

There were scenes of cel­e­bra­tion as the polls closed in the re­gional cap­i­tal, Ir­bil, and in the dis­puted city of Kirkuk, where a cur­few was im­posed on Mon­day night amid fears of un­rest.

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