Sept. 27 (UPI) — Nearly 93 percent of voters want to secede from Iraq, the Kurdistan elections commission announced on Wednesday.
The Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission said the official tally from Monday’s vote showed 92.73 percent voted ‘Yes’ on independence, while just 7.27 percent voted ‘No.’
Voters were asked to decide whether or not to remain part of Iraq. Of an estimated 4.6 million people eligible to vote, 3.3 million turned out, the IHERC said.
While the non-binding vote doesn’t give the Kurdish people the ability to automatically and immediately declare independence, it does give them grounds to discuss with Baghdad a peaceful separation from Iraq.
Viewing it as an illegal vote, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Wednesday he would never negotiate with the Kurds about the referendum results.
“We warned the KRG of the referendum’s possible repercussions,” al-Abadi said. “We told them we would not allow it to violate the Iraqi constitution.”
The Iraqi government has retaliated by announcing a boycott by Arab and international airlines in Kurdish cities such as Erbil. On Monday, Iraq deployed troops to areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government.