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Voter registration for Sidama referendum surpasses expectation
Sidama’s registering for the upcoming referendum

Voter registration for Sidama referendum surpasses expectation

The registration of voters to take part in the Sidama referendum, which kicked off on Thursday, November 2, 2019 and ends today, has exceeded expectations from the earlier estimated number, Desta Ledamo, Administrator of Sidama Zone, Southern Regional State, told The Reporter.

“The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE) expected the number of voters to show an increment of ten percent from the participants in the 2015 election, which would be roughly around 1.7 million. However, the number of voters registered now is more than two million,” the administrator said.

It is to be remembered that following a haggle between the Board and the representatives of the Sidama Zone, the Board had decided to organize the referendum, which is expected to take place on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 

According to the information obtained from the board, the referendum will be conducted in 1,692 polling stations, established in 598 kebeles and supervised by 6,000 election officers. 

Even though voter registration was behind schedule by one day, due to logistics related problems, the chairwoman Birtukan Medeksa indicated that after addressing the issues, the registration process commenced smoothly.  

Apart from this, the board indicated that the days from November 5 through 10 are allotted for the activities of campaigning by the actors of the referendum.

Meanwhile, Wolaita Committee for Human Rights (WCHR), a human rights advocate organization, has written another letter in opposition to the process on November 6, 2019.

The organization expressed its concern and has requested for the intervention of the following institutions such as the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the Ethiopian House of Federation (HoF), the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Human Rights Watch (HRW), and United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

WCHR stated that “With illegal registration of ineligible Sidama voters living inside the Wolayta zone borders, illegal identification authorization of new Hawassa residents; the xenophobic activities of top Sidama officials directly involved in the referendum are a threat to the process.” “Hence it requests the postponement of the referendum and be conducted after the 2020 general election.”