Irbil, Iraq (APTN/NBC) – The Kurdish Referendum on Independence from Iraq was approved by more than 92% of voters, officials said Wednesday, as Iraq’s prime minister vowed to keep his country united without resorting to the use of force.
Hendrin Mohammed, the head of the Kurdish region’s election commission, announced the official results, saying the referendum passed with 92.73% support and turnout of more than 72%.
Even with the strong support, the non-binding vote is unlikely to lead to formal independence.
But it has escalated long-running tensions with Baghdad, which has moved to block flights in and out of the Kurds’ autonomous region.
Egypt’s national airline announced Wednesday that it would suspend flights between Cairo and Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Egyptair said in a statement the decision goes into effect starting on Friday and will remain until further notice.
A Lebanese airline official has also said the country’s flagship carrier airline will halt its flights to and from Irbil.
The official Wednesday the Middle East Airlines flights will also be halted starting Friday.
Middle East Airlines has one flight per day to Irbil.
Iraq and its neighbors, along with virtually the entire international community, are opposed to any redrawing of the map.
The vote was held across the autonomous Kurdish region’s three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Kurdish forces but claimed by Baghdad.