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In First, Woman Gets Ceremonial Role as Ethiopia’s President

Sahle-Work Zewde Photographer: Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images

Ethiopia’s parliament appointed the nation’s first female president, about a week after the government was reorganized to give women half of all cabinet posts.

The ascension of Sahle-Work Zewde, a former ambassador and United Nations special representative, to the largely ceremonial role makes her Africa’s only current woman president.

It’s the latest change since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April, promising greater political freedoms and urging exiled opposition groups to take part in multi-party elections.

“If the reforms we have started are led in equal measure by both men and women, the country will soon forget poverty and backwardness and move toward prosperity,” Sahle-Work said after she took the oath of office in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Her citizens — without differences in gender, ethnicity, religion or any other factor — will call Ethiopia a place to live in equality.”

Lawmakers approved her appointment in a Thursday vote that was televised by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp.

The previous president, Mulatu Teshome, resigned this week with a year of his term still remaining. He didn’t publicly give his reason for doing so.

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