Your Turn, Madam President!

Former President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) gestures to his successor, Sahleworq Zewde, to take the centre spot for a photoshoot just outside of parliament’s main hall. She is a most celebrated, acknowledged and revered diplomat. A 68-year old mother of two sons, Sahleworq is a native of Addis Abeba went to school at the French Lycée and studied in France. To her right are Keria Ibrahim, speaker of the House of Federation, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to the right foreground.

The picture was taken moments after Sahleworq’s swearing-in ceremony as President of Ethiopia last Thursday. Reports of Mulatu’s resignation emerged just a day before he tendered a letter to the joint session of both legislative houses on Thursday, October 25. After a brief closed session, MPs received the nomination of Sahleworq from the Speaker of the parliament in an open session. Sahleworq was unanimously elected as the fourth president of the nation and the first female president under the current constitution.

The first person to hold the office was Negasso Gidada (PhD), followed by Girma Woldegiorgis, who served for two terms, the maximum limit. Mulatu was elected in 2013 and is the first president to have not served out a full term of the presidency.

Coming on the heels of Abiy’s cabinet reshuffle that gave half of the ministerial positions to women, Sahleworq, a career diplomat who previously served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to Djibouti, Senegal and France, special qepresentative of United Nations Secretary-General to the African Union and as head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, is now the only female president serving in Africa.

While the position of the president is, Sahleworq is nonetheless the Head of State – the first female to hold the title since the death of Empress Zewditu in 1930. The President – a position held by Mengistu Hailemariam and Meles Zenawi under different governments and varying powers and functions – opens parliament, signs bills approved by parliament, receives the credentials of foreign ambassadors and grants pardons.

Published on Oct 27,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 965]



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