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News Link • Iraq

Kurds vote overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Iraq

• http://edition.cnn.com, By Tamara Qiblawi

More than 92% of the roughly 3 million people who cast valid ballots on Monday voted "yes" to independence, according to official results announced by the Kurdish electoral commission on Wednesday.

The outcome represents a step towards independence for the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq and areas it claims, and puts Kurdish authorities on a collision course with their counterparts in Baghdad.

The poll took place despite vehement opposition from the Iraqi government, which described it as unconstitutional and has authorized use of force against Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, however, says the referendum will give it a mandate for talks to secede from Iraq, although Baghdad has already ruled out such talks.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the referendum to be annulled and for the KRG to engage in dialogue as guided by the constitution. His comments come a day after he ordered the Kurds to yield control of their airports to the central government by Friday.

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