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Ethiopia’s New President is a Woman: Sahle-Work Zewde

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Ethiopia’s parliament has made Sahle-Work Zewde the country’s first female president. And while the role is largely ceremonial, her appointment carries power in what it signifies.

Sahle-Work, an experienced diplomat, is the first female head of state in Ethiopia’s modern history. In June, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Sahle-Work as special representative to the African Union and head of the U.N. Office to the African Union — the first woman in the role. She was previously director-general of the U.N. Office at Nairobi and held a range of diplomatic posts, including Ethiopia’s ambassador to France and Djibouti.

 

 

« A career diplomat & senior official at the UN, she brings the right competence & experience to the office, » Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister’s office, tweeted on Thursday. « In a patriarchal society such as ours, 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. »

 

 

In Ethiopia, the prime minister holds the executive power. According to the Ethiopian Constitution, presidential powers and functions include appointing ambassadors, receiving foreign envoys and granting pardons.

 

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