The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is undertaking preparations to hold a referendum in 12 Kebeles of the Amhara Regional State to determine the long-standing self administration question of the Kimant people in the region up on the request of the House of Federations (HoF).
Head of the communication of NEBE Tesfalem Abay told The Reporter that “the board has sent a group of experts to the area a month ago to examine some technical issues to undertake the referendum. The group has assessed the situation and studied how many polling stations are required; the number of election facilitators and observers needed and has presented its findings to the board.”
According to the head of the communication, some 25 thousand peoples are expected to register and vote in the referendum. Regarding the number of polling stations, currently, the board has estimated that some 34 stations will be installed in different areas of the selected 12 Kebeles.
Following the assessment, all the relevant bodies from the region and the Board have discussed over the matter and the detailed time table to conduct the referendum. Although Tesfalem admitted that the detailed time table has been discussed, he refrained for disclosing the exact date, and the details of the schedule for the upcoming referendum.
According to the head of the communication, the board will disclose the exact date and detailed timetable of the referendum after examining the report presented by the experts.
The Kimant self administration question was one of the issues which has exacerbated the recent political unrest in Ethiopia and which have resulted in the bloody clash with security forces causing damages to life and property.
The original self administration claim of the Kimant people stretched across 100 and more kebeles in the Gonder and the surrounding woredas in the Amhara Regional State. In fact, the Kimant identity was recognized fairly recently after a series of appeals which were lodged for the HoF and the regional administration.
Finally, as the HoF was investigating the Kimant identity question, the regional administration reconsidered the matter and decided to grant the Kimant their unique identity separate from the Amhara. So, out of the originally claimed Kimant self administration kebeles, the Amhara regional administration agreed to look into some 42 kebeles. The decision to grant the 42 kebeles administration was one that led to a conflict in the area with members of the Kimant community claiming that it was way below what the people deserve actually.
It was this investigation of the regional administration which led to the decision that the status of the 12 kebeles could not be determined without conducting a referendum.
In fact, the Kimant self administration question was respected in principle some two years ago while determining the level of the self administration entity, whether it is a special kebele, woreda or a special woredea or zone remained debatable.
The level of self administration would ultimately be informed by the outcome of the referendum which is expected to be conducted shortly.