By RFPosted on 19-11-2019Modified on 19-11-2019 at 12:55

This is the first true democratic test of the Abiy era in Ethiopia: the Sidama zone goes to the polls on Wednesday for a referendum on the creation of a new regional state. For many decades, nationalists have been demanding their autonomy.

This Wednesday will be the culmination of a long quest for sidamas nationalists. And on the ballot, the choice will be simple: the traditional jar, the "shaf├ęta" or the hut, "godjo". Belachew is 20 years old and he chose his camp, printed on textile: " This t-shirt carries a message : choose shafeta, because it represents peace and unity. "

In nine days, more than 2.3 million voters registered. A very simple process, just like the result hoped for by Dr. Solomon, freshly enlisted: " It's a story of self-administration, nothing else. To govern one's own region politically, economically and socially is very important to the people who grew up here. "

" A poll is always a personal choice "

The pro-referendum is easily expressed, the anti are more reluctant. Some keep in mind the inter-ethnic violence of June 2018. And last July, the postponement of this election had resulted in violence and made at least 53 dead, according to the local police. Those who agree to give their name do not directly say their opposition.

Estifanos Abush is pleased to have his say: " Those who have asked for this referendum believe that a Sidama region is a good thing. But a poll is always a personal choice. Once in the polling station, everyone is free to decide. "

If some non-Sidamas say they want to vote "yes", many fear being discriminated against if the area becomes a regional state.

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