Ethiopia has again elected a woman to one of the higher offices of the country only a few weeks after electing its first female president and president of the Supreme Court. Birtukan Mideksa has been elected as the head of the electoral board weeks after her return from exile.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed nominated Mideksa for the office and she was approved by parliament on Thursday despite concerns raised by several MPs about her role as an opposition leader.
“We are appointing her considering her knowledge of the constitution and the law of the nation. She might have her own opinions and sayings like anyone, but we believe she will act according to the constitution,” said PM Abiy in parliament.
Birtukan Mideksa, who is a former judge, has been in exile in the United States until the recent amnesty announced by Abiy for political dissidents to return home. The founder of the opposition UDJ party was convicted in 2005 and jailed for trying to overthrow the state after post-election violence in 2005 in which dozens of protesters were killed by security forces.
Mideksa fled the country after her second pardon in 2010 following pressure from rights groups and international governments. She was first pardoned in 2007 but it was revoked and her life sentence was resumed.
Birtukan Mideksa was sworn in by the newly elected female president of the Supreme Court, Meaza Ashenafi.
PM Abiy has carried out his promise of appointing women to fill half of his cabinet as part of the many reforms he is introducing into the country including the promotion of multi-party democracy, allowing the return of exiled political dissidents into the country and the establishment of bilateral relations with its neighbours.