Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ethiopia's Sidama Zone Voting on Autonomy (Map)

Update: Check out our follow-up article for results of the referendum!

Political map of Ethiopia's regional states, highlighting Sidama Zone, which is voting in a referendum in November 2019 on whether to split off from the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) to become a new regional state.
Ethiopia's regional states, with the Sidama Zone highlighted in darker purple within the SNNPR
(Modified from this Wikimedia map by SUM1 and NordNordWest; CC BY-SA)

Sidama Statehood Vote: Brief News Update

Bougainville's independence vote isn't the only status referendum happening in the world this week: Today, Ethiopia's Sidama Zone is also voting on its future. But unlike Bougainville, the Sidama Zone isn't voting for independence - instead, its people are being asked whether they want to separate from the country's Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR).

The SNNPR is one of Ethiopia's nine "regional states", partially self-governing federal units designed to represent the homelands of major cultural and language groups. (Two cities, Dire Dawa and the capital, Addis Ababa, aren't part of any regional state.)

The Sidama Zone is also defined based on its majority people, the Sidama, but right now it's only an administrative subdivision of the SNNPR. If today's referendum passes, it'll become a full regional state of its own, giving it much more power to govern its own affairs.

Activists have been demanding this for a long time, and the Ethiopian government's refusal to hold a Sidama referendum in 2018 led to major protests and clashes with police earlier this year. A group of Sidama activists even threatened to declared a new regional state on their own, without the approval of the central government.

Ethiopia's prime minister eventually agreed to hold a referendum, which was originally scheduled for November 13 before being delayed to today. Results of the vote are expected in about a week.

Stay tuned to PolGeoNow to find out what happens!