Over one million people in six zones of the Southern Regional State have voted in favour of forming the country's 11th regional state, to be named the Southwestern Regional State. The referendum was held at the end of last month, and nearly 94pc of the 1.3 million voters registered in the Bench Sheko, Sheka, Keffa, South Omo, and Dawro zones, as well as Konta Special Zone, showed up to cast their ballots. Only 24,000 voted against autonomy at the 1,613 polling stations set up in the areas. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), which spent seven million Birr on organising the referendum, pushed the voting deadline back by two hours in light of large crowds at polling stations.
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