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Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde saw that ‘Abiy was dragging his country into an infernal spiral’

François Soudan
By François Soudan
Editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique

Posted on Tuesday, 23 November 2021 16:05, updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 12:53

Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde in Paris on 18 May 2021. ELIOT BLONDET-POOL/SIPA

Ethiopia’s President Sahle Work-Zewde, who only has a ceremonial role, neither approves nor supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s warmongering policy.

She is one of only two female heads of state on the continent, along with Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan. However, she is a powerless president, as the constitution has reduced her role to a ceremonial one. One can only imagine how dismayed and helpless she feels.

Since 4 November 2020, and the start of the war in Tigray, President Work-Zewde has been going through an ordeal that many of her friends and most of the diplomats posted in Addis Ababa know about, but which she cannot talk about publicly.