Sahle-Work Zewde becomes Ethiopia’s first female president

World Today

Ethiopia’s first female President Sahle-Work Zewde walks to take the oath at the Parliament in Addis Ababa on October 25, 2018. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

Ethiopia has its first female President. Sahle-Work Zewde was sworn in Thursday – the latest move in the government’s campaign for gender equality.

CGTN’s Girum Chala reports.

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A seasoned diplomat with years of experience working at the United Nations, Sahle-Work Zewde has been appointed president of Ethiopia.

She replaces Mulatu Teshome, who announced his resignation to pave the way for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali’s reforms.

Zewde said sustaining peace will be a priority during her six-year tenure.

“Because women are the primary victims during war, my focus will be bringing Ethiopians and other Africans to work together so peace can prevail in our country,” she declared.

Under Ethiopia’s Constitution, the prime minister holds the political power and the president is more of a ceremonial position.

However, Zewde is committed to women’s rights and overall well-being.

“We have to build a generation with zero tolerance for violence against women,” she insisted. “If anyone thinks these are just words, not actions, rest assured, this is just the beginning.”

Lawmakers have welcomed her appointment. The speaker of the Ethiopian parliament’s lower house, Tagesse Chafo, explained that they, “chose Sahle-Work Zewde based on her experience and her remarkable contributions to her country, the continent and the world.”

“We believe she can lead Ethiopia diligently and effectively,” he added.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently reduced his Cabinet to 20 ministers – half of whom are women. However, Ethiopian authorities said the appointment of women in government is not only for the sake of equality, as the candidates are chosen on merit.