Ethiopian Parliament today elected Sahlework Zewde as the first female president of Ethiopia in modern history of the country.
Sahlework, who has been working as senior official at the UN, has become the fifth President of Ethiopia after the fall of the Marxist Derg Regime in 1991.
The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has served as the President of the transitional government for around two years following the end of the arms struggle in May 1991. While Meles had the executive power during his presidency, the remaining four presidents of Ethiopia have not been in charge of the executive. This is because the country has introduced a parliamentary system, where the president serves as ceremonial, while the prime minister holds the executive power.
Sahlework, who studied natural science and conflict resolution, has been working as head of UN Africa special envoy UN Undersecretary General, leading the office UN Africa office in Nairobi. He appointment as president came following the sudden resignation of Dr. Mulatu Teshome who has been serving for the past five years and only left one year to complete his term.
The new Prime Minister of Ethiopia who came to power last April has been undertaking aggressive reform measures over the past seven months. Recently he reduced the total number of his cabinet ministers to 20 from 28 and appointed 57 state ministers.
The reform also has forced all the four member parties of the ruling coalition to sack their old guards mainly infected by Chinese kind of governance that gives less attention to freedom and human rights, and replace them with more energetic young and educated central committee members.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has been leading the country following the arms struggle, has been facing major opposition and unrest over the past few years finally forcing Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn to resign around seven months ago.
“Seven months ago no one expected or dreamed about such a remarkable change in this country,” said the outgoing President Mulatu, recalling the tough days before Dr. Abiy Ahmed was elected as Prime Minister.“At that moment our country was at the crossroads urging its children to save her,” he said, indicating that the whole nation was fallen under a heavy frustration and confusion.
After handing over his power to Sahlework, Dr. Mulatu has urged everybody to work together and maintain peace, stability and sustain the democratic journey and ongoing reform in Ethiopia.
The newly appointed president Sahleworkon her part stated the importance of both women and men to change the country. “If we sustain the ongoing reform without any kind of favoritism and lead it through the participation and mutual benefits of both men and women, our country will be liberated from poverty and backwardness,” she said.