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BREAKING: Ethiopian Govt holds autonomy referendum for ethnic Sidama November
Ethiopian government reportedly granted its ethnic Sidama community a referendum in November on self-determination, to create the country’s 10th autonomous region.
Ethiopia’s nine existing regional states, according to Fana news agency reports, enjoy a degree of autonomy under which they can choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, land administration, education and health.
Buoyed by political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018, political activists from the Sidama – currently subsumed into one of the nine states – wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July.
The same month, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-autonomy activists, while other Sidama leaders accepted an offer from the government to hold a referendum within five months.
According to Ethiopia’s electoral board, the referendum, scheduled on November 13, would address “ethnic Sidama’s demand for regional statehood,” state-affiliated.
At least eight further ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa country of 105 million people are also seeking autonomy, Fana reports.
Abiy, who was appointed by the ruling coalition last year, has won praise for political reforms in what was once one of the continent’s most repressive nations.
According to gathered report, fear still mounts as many local activists using the greater freedoms to demand more rights, may spark violence with rival interests.
The electoral board also revealed that 1,700 polling stations and 8,500 election officials would be deployed for the November referendum, Fana reports