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New multi-ethnic regional state emerging in South West

South West Ethiopia Nations Regional State is poised to be the 11 regional state in the country as the Upper House approved the demand for it

New regional state _ South West Ethiopia
Google map of South West Ethiopia


October 10,2020

Dozens of zone level administration within what remained of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) had been waging a noticeable struggle to form their ethnic based identities.

So far only Sidama zone in the region succeeded after the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) organized a referendum in November 2019.

Less than a year after it, a new multi-ethnic region is emerging. This week, the House of Federation (Ethiopian Upper House) unanimously approved a demand for statehood in South West Ethiopia.

Five zone level administrations and one district in the region namely, Kaffa, Sheka, Bench Sheko, Dawuro and West Omo Zones, and Konta Special district are coming together to form a single regional state.

The administrations in these regions believe, as reported by state media, that they would benefit from a new administrative arrangement that would bring them together as a single regional state. There is a tendency to believe that statehood status within the Ethiopian Federal arrangement, which is ethnic based, is relevant in the allocation of resources from the Federal government.

The new multi-ethnic estate is poised to be named as South West Ethiopia Nations Regional State, as reported by Ethiopian News Agency.

It is going to be the eleventh regional state in the country. However, the NEBE will have to organize a referendum, as was the case with Sidama zone, in accordance with the provision in the current constitution of Ethiopia.

About 13 zone level administrations in the SNNPR are pushing for statehood status. If the House approves the request, they will have to go through the same process; NEBE will organize a referendum – a process which political observers say is a waste of resources.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been criticized for lack of consistency in terms of handling statehood demands coming from the SNNPR region which is somewhat distinct from the rest of the regional states as it was formed by a collection of more than 50 ethnic groups in the region.

When activists from Wolaita zone took to the street in August 2020 to protest that Abiy’s government is not addressing the demand for statehood, security forces shot dead dozens of them. The leaders of the movement were also put in jail.

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