Sidama referendum voting ended with no security incident, Hawassa remains a question

Ethiopian government says Sidama referendum for ethnic statehood ended with no security incident. The status of Hawassa, a city that has served as the seat of SNNPR for over 27 years and a city that has changed very much in those years due to private and public investment could potentially remain a controversial question should the outcome of the referendum is separate ethnic Sidama statehood

Sidama referendum_
Credit : Awassa Guardian

borkena
November 20, 2019

Head of SNNPR regional state Restu Yirdaw said that voting in the referendum concluded peacefully, reported by state media Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

Voting started as early as 6.a.m. local time across 1,692 polling stations organized for this purpose.  In areas where the number of registered voters was small, the voting process was completed ahead of scheduled time, ENA reported.

Regional police, Federal Police force and Sidama zone security coordinated their work to ensure peace during the voting process, said Restu.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was apparently supportive of the “Sidama question” from get go, hailed it in a positive light before it was even completed ; “Sidama referendum is an expression of the democratization path Ethiopia has set out on.”

The National Election Board of Ethiopia is expected to disclose the outcome in 48 hours.

Over one million people cast votes in the referendum. It was organized to determine the ethnic-based statehood question demanded by Sidama.

There are reports that most non-Sidama ethnic communities in Hawassa town and other areas in the region boycotted what a local news provider described as a “controversial event.”

If ethnic-Sidama nationalists win the referendum, it means that Sidama, currently a zone administration within Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, will have its own separate regional-state status, and will become the 10th regional state in Ethiopia.

Yet, the status of Hawassa, should the outcome of the referendum favors separate ethnic Sidama state, is something that is to be determined in consultation with the regional state has it has served as the seat of SNNPR for over 26 years now which means that the region’s entire resources have been invested in the city.

So the wealth of the city is to be divided between Sidama and the more than fifty ethnic groups that have been, to date, under the administration of SNNPR. In fact, the National Election Board of Ethiopia has made that clear from the beginning.

There have been voices calling for the postponement of the referendum on grounds of voter registration fraud and what not but the national election board did not seem to want to address them.

The process leading to Sidama referendum has been a bloody one. In July 2019, radical ethnic Sidama Nationalist youth believed to be agitated by Jawar led radical ethnic Oromo nationalists, announced an ultimatum calling for Ethiopia’s election board to organize a referendum by July 18, 2019.

As Ethiopia’s election board ignored the ultimatum (response came a day after the deadline for the ultimatum), radical Sidama nationalists launched a violent attacks against non-Sidama ethnic communities in the region leaving at least 54 dead and over 100 wounded, as confirmed by security authorities in the region.

Several other ethnic communities in the region have demanded similar rights and most of them have finalized the initial requirement which is getting the zone council to vote on it and formally submit their demands to SNNPR state.  



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5 Responses to "Sidama referendum voting ended with no security incident, Hawassa remains a question"

  1. Gedeon   November 21, 2019 at 1:04 am

    We would like to congratulate the Sidama people for their achievements. We would also like to take this opportunity to plead with the Sidama people to give us the ethnic Gedeo Ethiopians a small piece of the Sidama State land so we ethnic Gedeos can establish an independent Gedeo State.

    As you know currently we the Gedeo people are displaced not able to return to our former lands since ethnic Guji peoole took our homeland from us by force rendering us to be stateless with nowhere to establish.

    Reply
  2. SLW   November 21, 2019 at 7:15 am

    If further fragmentation is the way right after the 48 hours the non Sidama residents should also file for self determination. So should also file for self determination the tens of millions non Oromos living in Oromos, the tens millions living Amahara and Somali and the all other regions. It nightmare has to come to Ethiopians it also has to reach the ethnic incumbent elites. Let’s them also feel the suffering they have brought in the innocents. Insecurity and suffering should be onto ethnic merchants and not innocent hard working people who want to leave in peace. If the former Sidama extremists did create the havoc with machetes once they get the security apparatus what do one expect they would do. I really doubt even if the referendum itself was done freely and each Sidaman did vote actually freely without the coercion of those extremists or without voter fraud. Mr PM expect the same call of tens of millions in your own Oromos as people are tired of being killed like a cattle with total impunity.

    Reply
  3. SLW   November 21, 2019 at 7:26 am

    And not Tigreans of Welkait, Humera, Raya should also ask for full self determinationbas well. The only way fire maker understands the danger of fire when his own cherished house is in fire.

    Reply
  4. SLW   November 21, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Moreover. Non Tigreans of Welkait, Humera, Raya d also ask for full self determinationbas well. The only way fire maker understands the danger of fire when his own cherished house is in fire.

    Reply
  5. Mitiku Mekonnen   November 21, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Well done our innocent PM Abiy Ahimed. This is the result of yours and Jawar’s artificially fabricated drama. How you will answer the questions of the rest zones regional referendum in SNNPR in near future?

    Reply

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