Ethiopian members of parliament have elected Sahle-Work Zewde, an experienced diplomat, as the country’s first female president.
Her election to the ceremonial position comes a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a cabinet with half the posts taken up by women.
In her acceptance speech, President Sahle-Work spoke about the importance of maintaining peace, local media say. She was voted in after the unexpected resignation of her predecessor, Mulatu Teshome.
The prime minister’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, tweeted that the “appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life.
President Sahle-Work has served as an ambassador for Ethiopia in Senegal and Djibouti. She has also held a number of UN positions, including the head of peace-building in the Central African Republic.
Immediately before becoming president, Ms Sahle-Work was the UN representative at the African Union.
In the Ethiopian constitution, the post of president is ceremonial with the prime minister holding the political power.
Who is Sahle-Work Zewde?
Sahle-Work Zewde is currently the first female President of Ethiopia. She was elected President by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly on October 25, 2018.
Zewde was previously a diplomat, serving as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union at the level of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
She also served as Ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea, from 1989 to 1993.
In 2011, Sahle-Work Zewde was appointed to the position of Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She was the first person to hold the post at the level of Under-Secretary-General.
President Sahle-Work Zewde studied natural science at the University of Montpellier, France. She is fluent in Amharic, French and English.