Iraqi Kurdistan referendum: High turnout in independence vote
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.