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News: Electoral Board to hold Southern region referendum in February next year

Birtukan Mideksa. Photo: NEBE/September 2022 Archive

Addis Abeba – Birtukan Mideksa, Chairwoman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), announced Monday that the Board was preparing to hold a referendum in six zones and five special districts in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state on 06 February 2023. Birtukan announced the schedule during a discussion the Board held with representatives of political parties.

Accordingly a referendum will be held in Wolayita, Gamo, Gofa, South Omo, Gedeo, Konso zones as well as Derashe, Amaro, Burji, Ale and Basketo special districts of the SNNP region. The outcome will determine the reconstitution of a new regional state out of the existing SNNP region.

The NEBE has designated the city Arba Minch to be the coordination center of the referendum and said the results will be announced to the public on 15 February. Bruck Wondwosen, the Board’s Operations Advisor, stated that 18,885 people will be engaged to facilitate the implementation of the referendum.

Last month, the Board has submitted a budget request to hold the referendum amounting a total of 541,270,104.82 birr for the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR).

Birtukan in her part stated that the Board has been preparing for the referendum following the decision by the House of Federation (HoF) accepting the request from the said zones and special districts (Woredas) to be reorganized in one regional state.

It is to be recalled that in early August, local councils of a total of ten zones and six special woredas in Ethiopia’s Southern state decided to undergo major restructuring to create two more regional states out of the existing SNNP regional state, which would have divided the region into four regional states.

Subsequently, on August 05 the Council of the SNNP region submitted the request only from the six zones and five special woredas to the House of Federation’s Speaker Agegnehu Teshager who then informed the Electoral Board to organize the referendum and notify the House of the results.

However, the request for similar referendum from the Hadiya, Halaba, Kembata Tmbaro and Silte zones, as well as the Yem Special Woreda has since been shelved.

The February referendum will be the third similar referendum by the NEBE after it held the first on 23 November 2019 in which more than 2.3 million registered voters, cast their votes in 1,692 polling stations was the first such referendum that saw the creation of a new Sidama regional state out of the SNNP region.

Two years later, in October 2021, five zones and one special Woreda comprising Kaffa, Sheka, Bench Sheko, Dawuro and West Omo Zones, and Konta Special woreda held a referendum to merge and create a new regional state, Southwest Ethiopia People’s Regional State, becoming the second new regional state out of SNNP region. AS

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