The Ethiopian Parliament on Thursday elected veteran diplomat, Sahle-Work Zewde as its first female president.
The 68-year-old Zewde succeeds Mulatu Teshome, who resigned from the largely ceremonial post on Wednesday. She is expected to serve for two six-year terms in office.
Until her election, Zewde was the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the African Union (AU). She previously served as the East African country’s Ambassador to France, Senegal and Djibouti. She was also the head of the UN office in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
Fitsum Arega, the Chief of Staff to the country’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has hailed the election of Zewde, who resigned from her UN role earlier this week apparently in preparation for the new position.
“In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ethiopia has undergone a rapid political and cultural transformation since reformist Prime Minister Abiy took office in April. Ten out of 20 members of his new cabinet he appointed last week are women, including the country’s first female defense minister.