Ethiopia: Will there be a future Wolaita referendum?

Professor Assefa Wodajo, an activist working for separate Wolaita regional state, has been arrested in Sodo. Yesterday a protest was held in Sodo against ruling PP party’s proposal to create a new regional state comprising 10 zones and 6 districts (including Wolaita) of SNNPR” (The Oromia Daily Post, 07.08.2022).

The authorities and leadership of Addis Ababa should listen to the pleas and the will of the people of Wolaita Zone. By the 2020 population of the region is about 5,385,000 people. With this in mind, the wil land want for a Regional State makes sense.

When the Prosperity Party let the Sidama have a referendum and transformed the Sidama zone(s) into a regional state in 2020. In 2021 after another referendum the Prosperity Party also made the South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region (SWEPR), which means two regions has come out of the SNNPR under the reign of the Prime Minister Abiy.

The same sort of thing would make sense for the Wolaita Zone as well. We know the state is busy scheming “clusters” in the SNNPR, instead of offering the historical zone a possibility to get recognition.

The Kingdom of Wolaita lasted from 1251 to 1896. So the area has had an historical impact, which led to 42 dynasties and respect the seat of Kawo. After the fall of the Kingdom the new rulers let appointed governors rule over the Wolaita until the DeWrg changed the government structure and put Wolaita together with Sidamo. This lasted until 1991 when Wolaita became a zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).

Because of the act of making Sidama a Regional State. There are others who wants that for themselves. They want to see their Zone and their place in the same light as the neighbour. That’s because of the current government system and the benefits of being a state. There will be elevated infrastructure and security organizations with that. Which isn’t made in a cluster or such.

So, with the knowledge of two referendums and the two new regional states. The people of Wolaita has even a greater cause for their will and want. This has been created by the creation of Sidama and SWEPR. The door has been opened up for others and now the ones left behind asking for their turn.

The arrest of the Professor isn’t helping the cause, but instead only giving it credibility. As the people are demonstrating and protesting for their rights to a state. Who can blame them?

They have already seen two regions carved out of the SNNPR and easily could see a third. With the knowledge of the size of the SNNPR and the amount of population. The Wolaita Zone would take around of it and make the SNNPR really small in population size. However, it would still be bigger than Sidama and SWEPR, which has already been created.

This is a sort of play that the Prosperity Party has ushered in themselves with the establishment of new regional states surrounding the Wolaita zone. As well, as the knowledge and self-believe of ability to create hegemony on their own. Which isn’t hart to believe knowing how the current regime is running the nation. Surely, the Wolaita would prefer some more established boundaries, than what they have today.

So, is Wolaita next? Peace.

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