Iraqi Kurds wave Kurdish flags and hold burning torches as they walk up a mountain during a gathering to show support for the upcoming independence referendum and encourage people to vote in the town of Akra, some 500 kilometres north of Baghdad on September 10, 2017. (AFP Photo)
BAQUBA, Iraq, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The council of Iraq's eastern province of Diyala on Tuesday rejected conducting Kurdish independence referendum slated for Sept. 25 in some of its territories, which are part of the disputed areas between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
"The council of Diyala province has decided in its session today to reject the referendum of Kurdistan in any area within the current Diyala's provincial border," said Ali al-Daiyni, head of the provincial council at a news conference.
The council also called for immediate return of displaced people to their homes at the liberated areas, except for those wanted for the judiciary, and called for the deployment of the security forces of the central government across the province, including the disputed areas claimed by both the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad, Daiyni said.
Diyala province has several disputed areas such as the city of Khanaqin, which has a majority of Shiite Kurdish minority population, and the cities of Mandly and Jalawlaa which both have population of Arabs and Kurds, while the cities of Sa'diyah and Kufri have mixed population of Arabs, Turkomans and Kurds.
Earlier in the day, the Iraqi parliament voted on a draft of law rejecting the Kurdish independence referendum, putting obligation on the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to "take all measures that preserve the unity of Iraq and start a serious dialogue to address outstanding issues between Baghdad and the Kurdish region."
Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leading figure and former Iraq's Finance and Foreign Minister, said earlier in an interview with Xinhua that the referendum will be held on Sept. 25, after all the official bodies in the region completed their preparations in all aspects of security and logistics.
On June 7, the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25.
The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because it comes as the Iraqi forces are in fight against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.