Sahle-Work Zewde, 68, was elected President unanimously yesterday during the second Special Joint Session of Ethiopia’s two houses of parliament – the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation.
The career diplomat previously served as both the special representative of the United Nations’ secretary-general and the head of the UN office to the African Nation. She held a range of diplomatic posts, including Ethiopia’s ambassador to several countries including France, Djibouti and Senegal.
“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, “Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister’s office, tweeted on Thursday. “
Sahle-Work Zewde, the Amazon.
“The absence of peace victimises firstly women, so during my tenure, I will emphasise women’s roles in ensuring peace and the dividends of peace for women”.
Sahle-Work’s appointment makes her Africa’s only serving female head of state. She now leads a county where half the posts of the Prime Minister cabinet are assigned to women.
Sahle-Work will serve under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was elected in April and has developed a sweeping programme of reforms in the country.
The Powers and Functions of the President according to Article 71:
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.