Ethiopia’s first female president: A glittering local, global career

Sahle-Work-Zewde
Sahle-Work Zewde

The Ethiopian parliament is the final step for the country to officially welcome its first female president under the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF’s dispensation.

Undergoing a raft of reforms across the political, economic and security sectors, Ethiopia will have a strong and firm leader in Sahle-Work Zewde who has previously served her nation in high ambassadorial capacities.

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.

Who is the newest woman in Abiy’s circle as he continues to soak praise of having presented a gender balanced cabinet about a week ago, another first in Ethiopia’s political history.

1 – Ms. Zewde is a natural sciences graduate of the University of Montpellier, France.

2 – The job she left to become president was United Nations Seceratary-General’s Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) at the level of Under-Secretary-General. Ms. Zewde was the first woman appointed to this position.

3 – Until few months back, she was Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON).

4 – Other international positions she has previously held include: – Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) – Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – At home, Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

5 – Ms. Zewde is also a one-time Ethiopian Ambassador to France – Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and accredited to Tunisia and Morocco (2002-2006).

6 – From 1993 to 2002, she served as Ambassador to Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD),

7 – Also as ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea (1989-1993).

Article 71: Powers and Functions of the President

  1. She shall open the joint session of the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation at the commencement of their annual sessions.

  2. She shall proclaim in the Negarit Gazeta laws and international agreements approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives in accordance with the Constitution.

  3. She shall, upon recommendation by the Prime Minister, appoint ambassadors and other envoys to represent the country abroad.

  4. She shall receive the credentials of foreign ambassadors and special envoys.

  5. She shall award medals, prizes and gifts in accordance with conditions and procedures established by law.

  6. She shall, upon recommendation by the Prime Minister and in accordance with law, grant high military titles.

  7. She shall, in accordance with conditions and procedures established by law, grant pardon.