The decision comes after Kirkuk voted to take part in the Kurdish Regional Government referendum on independence from Iraq.

Kirkuk's governor, Necmeddin Kerim, was voted out by parliament after Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in a referendum on Kurdish independence slated for Sept. 25th. (AA)
Kirkuk's governor, Necmeddin Kerim, was voted out by parliament after Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in a referendum on Kurdish independence slated for Sept. 25th. (AA)

Iraq's parliament voted on Thursday to remove the governor of Kirkuk from office following a request from Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, according to several lawmakers who attended the vote.

The decision to remove the governor, Najmaddin Kareem, comes after Kirkuk – an oil-rich province claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq – voted to take part in a referendum set for September 25 on independence.

Baghdad and Iraq's neighbours are opposed to the referendum and earlier this week the Iraqi parliament voted to reject it and authorized Abadi to "take all measures" to preserve national unity.

Iraqi lawmakers worry that the referendum will consolidate Kurdish control over several disputed areas, including Kirkuk.

Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, however, has vowed to press ahead with the referendum and continues to insist that the vote will be held on time.

Kurdish MPs boycotted Thursday's vote, which was attended by 173 lawmakers in Baghdad. A majority voted to remove the governor, MP Husham Al Suhail said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies