South Western Ethiopian People Vote Yes to Form New Regional State

ADDIS ABABA – The South-West Ethiopian people have voted in favour of forming a new regional state by a huge margin.

Residents of one special world and five zones cast their votes in a referendum on whether to break away from Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) Region and form their own regional state on Sep. 30.

On Saturday, the Board announced the results in a press conference on Saturday, saying the majority of voters chose ‘Yes’ in favor of autonomy.

Data from the electoral Board shows the turnout was 93.9 percent with more than 1.26 million people, out of the 1.34 million registered voters, casting their votes.

“Apart from the high turnout forcing the voting deadline to delay by two hours, the referendum concluded peacefully with no logistical problems,” said Wubeshet Ayele, Board Deputy Chair.

The counting also shows, he said, a total of 1, 221, 079 people voted in favour while about 22, 000 people voted to continue to be a part of the SNNP regional state.

The referendum was observed by 1, 424 civil societies, said the Electoral Board, adding the final results will soon be submitted to the upper house of Ethiopian parliament or the House of Federation.

The outcome would allow residents of West Omo, Bench-Sheko Dawro, Kafa, Sheka zones as well as Konta Special District of SNNPR to get a statehood with more autonomy and federal funding.

The newly-elected President of SNNP Regional State, Ristu Yirdaw, has expressed his congratulatory message to the people of the South-western Ethiopian people on Sunday.

President Ristu also said his administration would provide the necessary support in the formation of the new region.

The Sept 30 referendum took place almost two years after Sidama zone voted for autonomy and part ways from SNNP Region to eventually form a new State in Africa’s second-most populous nation.