Gambela Region is located in southwestern Ethiopia, bordered by South Sudan in the west, Oromia Region in the northeast, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) in the southeast. The capital city is Gambela. It is estimated that in 2017 Gambela Region’s population was approximately 400,000 (Central Statistical Agency, 2013), and the Region has four administrative Zones: Agnewak-Zone, Nuwer-Zone, Mezhenger-Zone, and Etang Special Zone. Within these four Zones, there are 13 Woredas. In the Region, five ethnic groups are considered indigenous. These are the Anywaa (or Anyuak), Komo, Majanger, Nuer, and Opo. There are also people from other ethnic groups of the country living in the Region, often called “highlanders” (“Degenga”). Among these inhabitants of the Region, the Nuer and the Anywaa are the two largest groups in the Region, followed by the “highlanders”. The Nuer ethnic group is primarily agro-pastoralist, while the Anywaa ethnic group engages in cultivation. As of 31 July 2020, the region hosts 321,014 refugees from South Sudan (UNHCR Gambella Information Management Unit, 2020). The Region’s working language is Amharic, but Nuer, Anywaa, and Afan Oromo languages are spoken too.
The current ruling party, the Gambela People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM, የጋምቤላ ሕዝቦች ዴሞክራሲያዊ ንቅናቄ), was established in 2003 after a violent ethnic-based power struggle within the previous political party, the Gambela People’s Democratic Front (GPDF). To resolve this conflict, the ruling party, People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which became Prosperity Party (PP) in December 2019, established GPDM as a coalition of three ethnic-based parties. These were the Nuer People’s Democratic Organization which represents the Nuer and Opo ethnic groups, the Anywaa People’s Democratic Organization which represents the Anywaa and Komo ethnic groups, and the Majanger People’s Democratic Organization which represents the Majangir. The party was an EPRDF-affiliated political party.
In the upcoming general election of Ethiopia, Gambela has 14 election constituencies containing 431 polling stations (NEBE, 2021) to record votes for three seats at the Federal House of Peoples´ Representatives and 156 seats of the Regional Council. Contestation for these seats is expected among the ruling party PP, the Gambela Regional Movement (GRM)- a former armed group which joined other six parties to form Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party (EZEMA), the Gambela Peoples’ Justice for Peace and Democratic Movement, the Gambela Peoples’ Liberation Movement, and the Gambela People’s Liberation Democratic Movement.