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15/11/2018

Sahle-Work Zewde becomes Ethiopia's first female president

Ethiopian members of parliament have elected Sahle-Work Zewde (Amharic ሳህለወርቅዘውዴ) as the country's first female president.

Ms Sahle-Work is an experienced diplomat who has now become Africa's only female head of state.

Her election to the ceremonial position comes a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a cabinet with half the posts taken up by women.

After being sworn in, President Sahle-Work promised to work hard to make gender equality a reality in Ethiopia.Ms Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia. Photo Credit: J. MarchandMs Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia. Photo Credit: J. Marchand

Addressing parliament, she also pledged to promote peace: "I urge you all, to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of peace.''

Ms Sahle-Work was voted in after the unexpected resignation of her predecessor, Mulatu Teshome.

The prime minister's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, tweeted that "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 normalises women as decision-makers in public life".

President Sahle-Work has served as an ambassador for Ethiopia in Senegal and Djibouti. She has also held a number of UN positions, including head of peace-building in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Immediately before becoming president, Ms Sahle-Work was the UN representative at the African Union.

Read more: BBC NEWS