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Ethiopia elects female president

By AFP

Added 25th October 2018 04:13 PM

“If the current change in Ethiopia is headed equally by both men and women, it can sustain its momentum and realise a prosperous Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination,” Sahle-Work said on Thursday.

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“If the current change in Ethiopia is headed equally by both men and women, it can sustain its momentum and realise a prosperous Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination,” Sahle-Work said on Thursday.

ADDIS ABABA
 
Ethiopia on Thursday appointed a woman to the largely ceremonial position of president for the first time, further increasing female representation in the government of Africa's second most populous nation.
In a unanimous vote, Ethiopian lawmakers picked career diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde, 68, to replace Mulatu Teshome who resigned recently.
 
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.
 
“If the current change in Ethiopia is headed equally by both men and women, it can sustain its momentum and realise a prosperous Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination,” Sahle-Work said on Thursday.
 
Sahle-Work, who was born in the capital Addis Ababa and attended university in France, 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, Ethiopia’s main language.
As president she is expected to serve two six-year terms.
 
Symbolism and influence
"Mulatu has shown us the way for change and hope, he has shown life continues before and after leaving power. I call on others to heed his example and be ready for change," said Sahle-Work in a speech to parliament.
 
Political power in Ethiopia is wielded by the prime minister with the president's role restricted to attending ceremonies and functions.
 
Nevertheless, Sahle-Work's position carries important symbolic weight and social influence.
 
"Government and opposition parties have to understand we are living in a common house and focus on things that unite us, not what divides us, to create a country and generation that will make all of us proud," she said.
"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 becomes Africa's only serving female head of state, albeit in a ceremonial role.
 
A handful of African countries have in the recent past been led by female presidents with executive powers, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia (2006-18) and Joyce Banda in Malawi (2012-14).
Banda was elevated to the presidency following the death in office of Bingu wa Mutharika, while Sirleaf won two elections before standing down earlier this year at the end of her constitutionally mandated terms.
 
What the Ethiopian Constitution says about the president
 
• The House of Peoples’ Representatives shall nominate the candidate for President.
 
• The nominee shall be elected President if a joint session of the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation approves his candidacy by a two-thirds majority vote.
 
•  A member of either House shall vacate his seat if elected President.
•  The term of office of the President shall be six years. No person shall be elected President for more than two terms.
 
• Upon his election in accordance with sub-Article 2 of this Article, the President, before commencing his responsibility, shall, at a time the joint session of the Houses determines, present himself before it and shall make a declaration of loyalty to the Constitution and the Peoples of Ethiopia.
Powers and Functions of the President
 
• He shall open the joint session of the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation at the commencement of their annual sessions.
 
•He shall proclaim in the Negarit Gazeta laws and international agreements approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives in accordance with the Constitution.
 
•He shall, upon recommendation by the Prime Minister, appoint ambassadors and other envoys to represent the country abroad.
 
•He shall receive the credentials of foreign ambassadors and special envoys.
•He shall award medals, prizes and gifts in accordance with conditions and procedures established by law.
 
• He shall, upon recommendation by the Prime Minister and in accordance with law, grant high military titles.
 
•He shall, in accordance with conditions and procedures established by law, grant pardon.

 

 

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