Total of 92.7 per cent voted in favour of separating from Baghdad

The preliminary results from Erbil’s independence referendum held on 25 September show 92.7 per cent voted in favour of breaking away from Baghdad’s federal rule.

Turnout for the non-binding referendum was more than 72 per cent, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission said.

In the wake of the vote, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to impose his government’s control over KRG-held areas taken since 2003 and 2014. The disputed oil-rich Kirkuk region participated in the referendum.

Abadi also announced that an international air embargo will come into force on Friday unless Erbil hands over control of the Kurdistan region’s airports and borders to Baghdad.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Turkey, which has its own large restive Kurdish population, has threatened Iraqi Kurds with hunger, economic sanctions and military action.

The independence push risks sending Iraq into yet another conflict.