August 30, 2019 (GCDC) - Ethiopia on August 29, granted its ethnic Sidama community a referendum in November on self-determination, with a view to creating the country’s 10th autonomous region, the local news agency reported.
Ethiopia’s nine existing regional states enjoy a degree of autonomy under which they are able to choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, and health and land administration.
Buoyed by political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018, political activists from the Sidama currently subsumed into one of the nine states wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July.
The same month, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-autonomy activists, while other Sidama leaders accepted an offer from the government to hold a referendum within five months.
Ethiopia’s electoral board said the referendum, on Nov. 13, 2019 would address “ethnic Sidama’s demand for regional statehood.