The Sidama people will cast their votes on November 20 for a referendum that will let them form their self-representative government in the southern region of Ethiopia. The decision comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed implemented certain reforms that have given hope to various ethnic groups to demand more freedom and rights.
One of the members of the community who got married exclaimed that casting a vote is more important than getting married. And the married couple posed for a picture, holding an election card at a traffic signal in the regional capital. The 22-year-old man further said that the issue of Sidama’s statehood has been a long-drawn struggle of 130 years. He further added that even their forefathers battled to make it an autonomous region.
He said that if the votes are cast in favour of the referendum then their ethnic group, Sidama will have control over taxes, security, law, and education of the region. Sidama is the fifth largest ethnic group in Ethiopia comprising nearly 4 per cent of the total 105 million population. The autonomous voting will be closely monitored by other ethnic groups. There are a total of 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia and many of them are demanding similar rights.
Under the governance of Abiy, who in a time span of a year made peace with long-term foe Eritrea and also won the Nobel Peace Prize for the same, have implemented large scale social changes providing new freedoms and rights to the people of Ethiopia. His Governance has uplifted the hopes and aspirations of the people seeking self-rule but at the same time, the country is witnessing a surge of nationalism that could lead to unrest. One of the professors at the Bjørknes University in Oslo said that the Sidama referendum will be the first real test of the principles of the constitution where all the ethnic groups will be able to directly participate in the federation of their region.