The re-election process for the referendum in Wolaita is slated for June 19, 2023, the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) says. It is estimated that approximately one million people will participate in the referendum.
In the presence of political party representatives, the NEBE disclosed the new schedule approved for the rerun of the referendum. Registration will also take place on the same day as the election will take place.
After ethnic groups in the existing Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) demanded the formation of a new regional state, dubbed the “Southern Ethiopia” regional state, the federal government decided to hold a referendum. The referendum was held three months prior.
During the referendum, the majority of five zones (Konso, South Omo, Gamo, Gedeo, and Gofa) and five special districts (Burji, Basketo, Ale, Amaro, and Derashe) supported the formation of the new state. But the Gedeo zone opposed the establishment of the new state.
The NEBE approved the results of the referendum.
Three months ago, residents of Wolaita, one of the SNNPR’s zones, also participated in the referendum. However, the Board was compelled to annul the result of the referendum due to allegations of electoral misconduct in Wolaita. It investigated the violations and decided to hold the Wolaita zone referendum again.
Investigations into the violations are being conducted by the federal police and the Ministry of Justice. The detailed investigation, according to NEBE officials, will end with accountability. However, the officials emphasized that the investigation must be concluded and a verdict rendered prior to the June reelection.
The Board will announce the outcome of the election one week after the election date, which will determine whether a “southern Ethiopia” regional state will be established as the nation’s 12th region.
Officials from the NEBE disclosed that detailed preparations are currently underway. It has decided to take 5,400 of the 9,020 election enforcers from Addis Ababa in an effort to prevent the same misconduct observed during the last referendum in the region.
The Board also opted to increase the number of polling places from 1,112 to 1,804. 800 voters are permitted per station, as opposed to 1,500 during the last referendum.