Voting Date Set for Referendum to Form New Region in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA – The national electoral board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has set February 6 as a voting date for a referendum to decide on the formation of the nation’s 12th federal region.

The government granted 6 zones and 5 special districts, currently under the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), a referendum on self-determination.

Africa’s second most populous nation has a federal system with 11 regions. The upcoming referendum will decide on forming a new federal region.


The Electoral Board on Wednesday made its calendar for the referendum official, slating February 6, 2023, as the voting date.

The announcement comes weeks after the Board submitted a draft action plan and a 541.2 million birr budget bill needed to hold the poll to the parliament for approval. 

The board will hold the poll in six zones – Gamo, Gofa, Wolayta, Gedio, Konso, and South Omo, and five special districts – Burji, Amaro, Derashe, Basketo, and Alle.

Its calendar sets aside two weeks, starting Dec 20 for voters’ registration while giving fifteen weeks from Oct 17 for campaigning.

Preliminary results will be revealed at the polling stations for five consecutive days starting from Feb 7, 2023.

The final result of the referendum will be announced by the board on February 15, as per the calendar.


In August, the House of Federation passed the resolution to hold the referendum after authorities of the six districts and five special districts filed a petition.

The decision has paved the way for the third referendum to be held in the SNNP Regional State in the last two years.

The previous two referendums led to the formation of two federal regions, breaking away from the SNNPR.

The Sidama zone was the first to transform into Sidama Regional State in June 2020 after a 98.52% vote in favor of autonomy in the 2019 referendum.

One special district and five zones also split from the SNNPR and set up another federal region called the South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Regional State in November 2021 following a majority vote in favor of autonomous rule in the September 2021 referendum.

Featured Image Caption: Chairperson of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, Birtukan Mideksa speaking during a meeting on October 1, 2022. [Photo NEBE)

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