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First Ever Referendum Scheduled For March

By Dawit Ketema, The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa), 30 January 2001

Addis Ababa—An executive committee member of the Silte People’s Democratic Union Party (SPDUP), an ethnic based party in Ethiopia, said that a first ever referendum will be held in Ethiopia by the middle of March 2001 for the determination of the Silte ethnic group’s identity.

On the occasion of the party’s 8th founding anniversary observed among party members and supporters at the small stadium in Addis Ababa yesterday, Ato Muhaba Hussien told journalists that the life-long struggle of Silte people for national recognition shall achieve its 1st destiny in the coming referendum to be held throughout Ethiopia. We are hoping to gap the differences on the technicalities of the referendum between the regional state and our proposal. We are stressing a clean referendum at this point carried out by independent organs, said Muhaba. The referendum shall be of a specific kind.

Silte nationals have to determine whether they are Guraghe, Haida, or Silte. We have no doubt on the outcome of the referendum Silte has always been Silte. Even though a conference called at Butagera town, southern Ethiopia, by the regional state in August 1997 concluded there was no such ethnic group called Silte but Guraghe, the Federation house decided on its April 4th 2000 session for a referendum by Silte nationals within a year’s time to determine whether they are Silte or otherwise Silte nationals residing mainly in the 3 zones of the Southern Regional State are estimated to number between 1.2 and 1.5 million. The date of the referendum has not been confirmed yet.