Wolaita Zone set for Referendum Rerun

ADDIS ABABA – Residents of the Wolaita zone will cast their votes on Monday in the rerun of the referendum over the creation of Ethiopia’s 12th state.

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) previously held the referendum in Wolaita along with for four other zones and 5 special districts of the SNNP region in Feb as per their request to form a new state to the federal government.

Several electoral misconducts observed during the poll in Wolaita, however, forced the Board to overturn the results there.

More Polling stations, workers

While the issue remains a subject an ongoing investigation by the federal police, the board will rerun referendum in Wolaita where nearly a million residents are expected to cast their vote on Monday.

The NEBE says it has made extra precautions as part of its preparation to enable residents to exercise their voting rights peacefully and streamline the voting process.

Its preparations involve expanding the polling stations to 1,812 and deploying more than 9,000 poll workers.

Both figures are significantly higher than the Feb poll and will help the number of people voting per station to decrease by 50% as compared to the previous referendum, officials say.

Polling locations will be opened from 6 a.m. local time with voters expected to register and cast their votes on the same day.

To facilitate the voting process, government and private institutions – expect emergency and daily services providers like hospitals and transport – are mandated to be closed on Monday, the board says.

The poll results will be made official a week later on June 26, according to the NEBE’s voting schedule.

New region in the pipeline

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, currently has a federal system with 11 regions.

The latest referendum, involving five zones and the five special districts, will decide on creating a “Southern Ethiopia” regional state.

The NEBE already approved the outcomes of the referendum it conducted in South Omo, Gamo, Gedeo, and Gofa zones, as well as Burji, Basketo, Ale, Amaro, and Derashe special districts.

The majority of residents from these 4 zones and 5 special districts voted in favor of forming a new regional state, according to the the board’s confirmed results.