Ethiopia appoints Africa’s only female president

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"It is a historic moment for the people of Ethiopia, Africa and indeed the whole world", the President noted.

A session involving both houses of parliament is expected to hear and formally accept the resignation of current President Mulatu Teshome who has served in the post for the last five years.

Despite being a largely ceremonial leader with the Prime Minister - in this case Abiy Ahmed - being leader of government business, the role of president is a constitutional one that primarily says the occupant of the post is the Head of State.

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Metasebia Shewaye Yilma, a media entrepreneur and president of the Ethiopian women's business group AWiB, told NPR on Thursday that she is "ecstatic" at Sahle-Work's appointment, calling it "superb news for all us here, especially for women".

Sahle-Work Zewde leaves the Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia's first female President in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

In her work as an Ethiopian diplomat Ambassador Sahlework also served as Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia as well as Ethiopian Ambassador to France. "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".

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Ethiopia's parliament has made Sahle-Work Zewde the country's first female president.

The moves in Ethiopia are the latest in sweeping political and economic reforms in Africa's second most populous country since Abiy took office in April following months of nationwide anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres in June 2018 appointed Zewde as his Special Representative to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU at the level of Under-Secretary-General. Her resignation from the United Nations role this week is said to be to allow her take the new position of president.

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