According to Mikrofon news agency (MHA), Ongoing protests in Iraq’s northern Erbil and Duhok provinces are aimed at destabilizing the region and creating chaos, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday.
On Sunday, a large crowd of people — many of them firing shots in the air — stormed the Kurdish parliament building in Erbil, the administrative capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
The incident came shortly after the assembly voted to transfer presidential authority from KRG President Masoud Barzani to the Kurdish parliament and the KRG’s Council of Justice.
The vote followed Barzani’s announcement that he would not run in upcoming KRG presidential elections, which were recently postponed from Nov. 1 to July 1.
In a Monday statement, al-Abadi called on all sides to refrain from escalations.
“We are closely following the latest developments in Iraq’s Kurdish region,” the statement read.
“Recent attacks on party offices and journalists in Erbil and Duhok are aimed at sowing chaos in these areas,” the prime minister said.
Al-Abadi went on to say that the central government would provide public security and protect citizens’ interests.
Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG since Sept. 25, when Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas voted on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state.
Last week, government forces moved into several parts of Iraq disputed between Baghdad and the KRG, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.