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Tue, 02.21.1950

Sahle-Work Zewde, Diplomat born

Sahel-Work Zwede

*Sahle-Work Zewde was born on this date in 1950.  She is an Ethiopian politician and diplomat. 

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sahle-Work attended elementary and secondary school at Lycée Guebre-Mariam, after which she studied natural science at the University of Montpellier, France. She is fluent in Amharic, French, and English. A veteran in the Ethiopian foreign service, from 1989 to 1993, Sahle-Work served as Ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Guinea. From 1993 to 2002, she was Ambassador to Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

She later served as Ambassador to France, Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and was accredited to Tunisia and Morocco from 2002 to 2006. Sahle-Work was a Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Director-General for African Affairs in Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She served as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).

In 2011, she was Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON). Under Sahle-Work, the Nairobi office became a more critical U.N. hub for East and Central Africa, according to the 2012 Africa Yearbook. In June 2018, Sahle-Work was his Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU). She was the first woman to hold the post.   Sahle-Work became President of Ethiopia on October 25, 2018, and the first woman to serve in the newly established the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1995.

She replaced Mulatu Teshome, who resigned in unclear circumstances, and Sahle-Work served two six-year terms. In March 2020, Sahle-Work announced on Twitter that she had pardoned more than 4,000 prisoners to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia. She also pardoned more than 1,500 prisoners on April 20, 2020. On December 19, 2020, Sahle-Work commuted former Derg officials Berhanu Bayeh and Adis Tedla to life imprisonment. Although her role is largely ceremonial (with most executive power lying with the prime minister), Sahle-Work's election made Ethiopia's first female head of state since Empress Zewditu.

As of 2021, she is currently one of two female heads of state in Africa, alongside Samia Suluhu of Tanzania.

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