Ethiopia appoints first female president

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Ethiopia on Thursday appointed a woman to the largely ceremonial position of president for the first time.

In a unanimous vote, Ethiopian lawmakers picked career diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde to replace Mulatu Teshome who resigned.

Sahle-Work, who is in her late 60s, has been Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, Djibouti, Senegal and the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Just prior to her appointment as president she was the UN’s top official at the African Union. She is fluent in English and French as well as Amharic.

As president, she is expected to serve two six-year terms.

Political power in Ethiopia is wielded by the prime minister with the president’s role is restricted to attending ceremonies and functions.

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week appointed a slimline 20-person cabinet in which half the posts are held by women.

They include defence minister Aisha Mohammed and Muferiat Kamil who leads the newly-created Ministry of Peace, responsible for police and domestic intelligence agencies.

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