What Ethiopians can learn from Sidama's thorny statehood journey

Image credit: Canned Muffins@Flickr

Image credit: Canned Muffins@Flickr.

DisclaimerViews expressed in this commentary are those of the staff member. This commentary is independent of specific national or political interests. Views expressed do not necessarily represent the institutional position of International IDEA, its Board of Advisers or its Council of Member States


By the end of November 2019, Ethiopia may have one more autonomous regional state within its borders. Late last month, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has announced that a referendum to decide on the Sidama ethnic group's request for statehood will be held on November 13. The announcement came on the back of deadly clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists seeking to unilaterally proclaim a Sidama regional state.

The Sidama are hoping to become the 10th member state of the Ethiopian Federation and they are almost certain to get their wish following the referendum. Nevertheless, giving the Sidama the autonomy they seek within the Ethiopian Federation is going to take a lot more than just a referendum, and delays . . .


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About the Author

Programme Officer
Adem Kassie Abebe

Adem Kassie Abebe supports constitution-building processes around the world, and designs and implements projects particularly in transitions to peace and democracy in politically complex and fragile contexts. He convens platforms for dialogue, advises and provides technical assistance to high level constitution and decision makers at national and international levels and to civil society stakeholders. He was an editor of and managed ConstitutionNet from 2016 to 2021, an online platform providing continuous updates on comparative constitutional reform processes around the world. A notable feature of ConstitutionNet is 'Voices from the Field', a series in which local experts provide analysis and updates on the process, content and principal actors in ongoing constitutional-reform proposals.