Young people in southern Ethiopia have been celebrating as they believe the region’s governing party is about to allow a referendum to take place on whether the Sidama area should become its own federal state.
Rumours have been circulating on social media that a decision has been made – but there have been no announcement on the issue.
As we reported earlier, a group of youth activists and opposition politicians agreed to go ahead and declare the southern region of Sidama as a separate federal state within the country.
The declaration is due to happen on Wednesday.
The activists’ move could aggravate regional tensions within Ethiopia which are threatening the unity of the country.
Sidama is currently part of the multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). There are dozens of ethnic groups in the region.
Wednesday marks a year since SNNPR’s parliament accepted that there should be a referendum on Sidama’s future. According to the constitution, the vote should have happened within the last 12 months.
But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged people to be patient saying that changes in the election board need to happen before the referendum can take place.