Elections in Ethiopia: 2019 Sidama Referendum

Voters look at a list of provisional results at a polling station in Addis Ababa during Ethiopia's 2005 parliamentary elections. © AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo
Publication Date: 
19 Nov 2019
Language(s):

Ethiopia is a federation with nine regional states that can choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, health and land administration. On November 20, residents of the Sidama Zone will vote to decide whether it will be transformed into a regional state.

The Sidama Zone is part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), which contains 56 ethnic groups. The Sidama people are the largest ethnic group and have been demanding statehood since July 2018. If they vote for statehood, Sidama would be the first new state created in Ethiopia since the formation of the current nine-state federation in the 1990s. Several other ethnic groups have also filed requests for statehood referendums, which may lead to the disintegration of the SNNPR.

To help you understand this important electoral process, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Elections in Ethiopia: 2019 Sidama Referendum. IFES FAQs include:

  • Why is the referendum important?
  • How will voters cast their ballots?
  • When will official results be announced?
  • Who is responsible for security on Referendum Day?