Sahle-Work Zewde (Amharic: ሳህለወርቅ ዘውዴ; born 21 February 1950) is an Ethiopian diplomat and the 4th and current President of Ethiopia, the first woman to hold the office. She was elected president unanimously by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 25 October 2018.
Sahle-Work was previously a career diplomat, serving as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union at the level of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Sahle-Work attended elementary and secondary school at Lycée Guebre-Mariam in Addis Ababa, 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, Sahle-Work served as Ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Guinea, from 1989 to 1993. 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 accredited to Tunisia and Morocco from 2002 to 2006.
Sahle-Work subsequently held other high level positions including as Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and as Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
Career with the United Nations
Until 2011, Sahle-Work 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, Ban appointed Sahle-Work as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON).
In June 2018, Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Sahle-Work as his Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) at the level of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. She was the first woman to hold the post.
President of Ethiopia
Sahle-Work was appointed as President of Ethiopia on 25 October 2018, the first woman to serve in the role and the fourth president since the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition came to power. She replaced Mulatu Teshome, who resigned in unclear circumstances, and Sahle-Work is expected to serve two six-year terms. Sahle-Work's appointment makes her Africa's only serving female head of state, and the first female Ethiopian head of state since Empress Zewditu.