Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday approved the creation of a 12th regional state after the latest referendum for greater self-rule in Africa’s second-most populous country.
Voters in part of the ethnically-diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) overwhelmingly supported carving out their own state in a referendum in February.
The creation of ‘South Ethiopia Region’ — the third new state created since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 — was “approved with a unanimous vote” by the upper house.
Shortly after taking power in the early 1990s, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition government divided Ethiopia into nine semi-autonomous regions organised along ethnic and linguistic lines. The 1995 constitution required officials to organise a referendum for any ethnic group that wanted to form a new region within the federal system.