UPDATED: Official suspended to clam anti-referendum protests in Diyala

A man holds the Kurdish flag on September 4, 2011 during a demonstration in Stockholm against operations by Iran and Turkey against Kurdish separatist rebels in Iraq. AFP PHOTO /JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Diyala ( Diyala governorate decided Sunday to suspend a municipal official to calm protesters opposed to raising Kurdish flags in the province. 

Khedr Musallam, a member of Diyala province board, told Almaalomah website that governor Muthanna al-Tamimi gave abdul-Hussein Lusi, head of Mandali precinct, a compulsory vacation following angry protests which pulled down Kurdish flags raised at “vital” facilities in the province.

“No status quo can be imposed such as raising Kurdish flags and the inclusion of Diyala as a referendum vote constituency by Kurdish bodies” Musallam stated.  “Disputed territories are addressed by the constitution, and not determined by Kurdistan.” he added.

Al-Tamimi had arrived earlier on Sunday to Mandali region to calm tensions after hundreds took to the area’s streets to protest a planned vote by Kurdistan region on independence from Iraq, a local source told Alsumaria News.

Some protesters had pulled down three Kurdish flags and raised Iraqi ones instead, the source said, adding that the demonstrations were, however, “peaceful and free of any violations”.

Diyala is one of the regions to which the governments in Baghdad and Erbil claim sovereignty.

Kurdistan Region slated a vote on independence from the central government in Baghdad for September 25th, and has, since then, defied calls from Baghdad to postpone the measure.

Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts.

Erbil has already prepared voting units and started official propaganda campaigns in preparation for the referendum.

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