Ethiopia: News - South West State Referendum Committee Requests NEBE to Reconsider Postponement

Addis Abeba — The South West Regional State referendum Organizing Committee has requested the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to reconsider its decision to extend the planned referendum date. The Committee also requested that the 6th national and regional elections be held on time as scheduled.

In a press statement the committee members gave to local media, the committee recalled that all works were undergoing in coordination with the relevant regional authorities to ensure that the referendum was held on time. Following the decision by the NEBE, the executive members of the referendum organizing committee held an emergency meeting in Addis Abeba and concluded that the Board's decision did not take into account the local situation.

The committee also said that the people of the region have been waiting for referendum day to decide on their long awaited demands for self rule. The committee expressed its appreciation to the Board's initiative and efforts to implement the referendum but requests a reconsideration of the decision to extend the date.

On June 10 the NEBE said it was postponing the June 21 referendum due to security problems. In the latest security problem, on June 4, six security forces were killed and dozens of civilians were displaced from Guraferda Woreda of Bench Sheko zone, one of the zones where the referendum is taking places. The administrator of the Woreda, Sisay Shalo, told Addis Standard that members of the regional special forces were ambushed by unidentified armed groups while they were on their way to fetch water.

Yesterday Keffa, Dawuro and today Bench Sheko zonal administrations have already issued their complaints about the decision which they said failed to consider the existing reality on the ground.

Background

It was on October 06 that the House of Federation unanimously approved five zonal administrations and one special district in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Regional State (SNNPRS) to create a separate regional state. Subsequently, the councils of Kaffa, Sheka, Bench Sheko, Dawuro and West Omo Zones, as well as Konta Special district decided to form the South West regional state separate from the SNNPRS where they are currently being administered. AS

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