Ethiopia’s House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of Federation, in a joint session held on Thursday (October 25) elected Ambassador Sahlework Zewde as the 4th President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. She is the first woman to occupy what is largely a ceremonial office.
Zewde’s election followed the resignation of the outgoing President, Mulatu Teshome.
In her first press statement, she said: “I am deeply humbled for having the privileged to serve this great nation of ours. I want to thank you for showing me this much love and respect. I gave my word to serve my country with all my heart and with all dedication and I intend to keep my promise.”
Zewde was until recently, the UN Director General at its offices in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. She is currently the Special representative of the UN Secretary-General to the African Union, AU.
The new president has a rich ambassadorial track record having served as Ethiopian ambassador to several countries. She resigned from her UN role this week to allow her take up the new position of president.
The election of Ethiopia’s first female president comes a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a gender-parity cabinet that included 10 female ministers out of 20.
In Ethiopia’s constitution, the prime minister holds the political power and the president is the ceremonial head of state. Outgoing Mulatu Teshome had been in the presidential seat since October 2013.