Another historic day as Ethiopia supreme court gets first female president, and a prominent lawyer as vice president

Addis Standard staffs

Addis Abeba, November 01/2018 – Ethiopia has witnessed another historic milestone following today’s appointment of Meaza Ashenafi, a prominent law professional and women’s rights activist, as the first female President of the Federal Supreme Court.  Solomon Areda Waktolla, another respected law professional, was appointed as vice president of the Supreme Court.

Both names were forwarded as nominees by PM Abiy Ahmed to the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) this morning and both have received a unanimous vote from the House. Some of the the parliamentarians who spoke during the nomination have also praised PM Abiy Ahmed for his picks based on meritocracy.

Born and raised in Assosa city of the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state, Meaza Ashenafi’s career as a law professional spans over nearly three decades and involves serving as a judge at the federal high court in late 1980s. She was also one of the advisory members of Ethiopia’s constitutional drafting commission in early 1990s. In addition to that Meaza was the founder and executive director of the first women’s right advocacy civil society organization, Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), an association which has been through the thick and thin to provide legal protection to hundreds of women victims of domestic violence. In her early involvement with EWLA, Meaza had successfully defended a teenage girl who was put to trial after she shot to death her abductor, a story which has since been made into a documentary by prominent actress Angelina Jolie.

A graduate of law from Ethiopia’s Addis Abeba University (AAU) and University of Kent in the US, Meaza is also one of the 11 women founders of Enat Bank, a private bank “with a special focus on women.” In her last role before being appointed chief justice, Meaza has worked with the UN country team in Ethiopia as a consultant.

Expressing her happiness about the appointment of Meaza, Dr. Eleni Zeude Gabre-Madhin, another prominent figure, took to her Facebook page and described Meaza as a “fiercely independent, fair-minded, firm- negotiating, clear-headed lawyer with a brilliant incisive mind, yet a gentle and kind spirit.”

Vice President Solomon Areda too hails from a rich legal background and is known among many as a man of principle and integrity. Member of the Hague based Permanent Court of Arbitration, Solomon is a graduate of LLB from AAU, Master of Laws Degree (LLM) from Harvard University Law School, as well as Master of Economic Laws (LL.M.) from University of Amsterdam, among others. He had also served as a judge at Ethiopia’s Federal First Instance Court. Solomon was also running his own law office providing “a full range of legal advisory and litigation services” and consults several institutions throughout Africa on legal matters.Presenting Solomon as nominee, PM Abiy said he was the only one of the four candidates who has accepted this nomination.

On June 29, both Meaza and Solomon were appointed as two of the 13 members of Advisory Council for Law & Justice Reform committee, a committee tasked to help the attorney general’s office to revise Ethiopia’s draconian laws such as the civil society, the anti-terrorism and the media laws. The committee has so far reviewed the civil society’s law and has last week submitted the review to the attorney general’s office. According to attorney general Berhanu Tsegaye, his office will soon submit the reviewed document to the council of ministers following which a draft copy will be sent to the HPR for discussions and eventual approval.

Today’s appointment of both by PM Abiy Ahmed follows his recent decision to occupy half of his ministerial cabinet members by women appointees, followed last week by the nomination and subsequent appointment of a seasoned diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as the first female president of the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia.

It shows not only of the unprecedented ascendance of women to the highest ranks in Ethiopia’s recent past, but also a meritocracy based appointments, a sharp departure from the political appointments of the last 27 years under the governance of the EPRDF as a coalition. It is also earning PM Abiy a global acclaim. AS

ወይዘሮ መአዛ አሸናፊ ከተሾሙ በኋላ የተናገሩት

Posted by Zehabesha on Thursday, November 1, 2018


  1. We have to wait and see if Meaza would deliver what she promises. Need to understand the context. Meaza came into her own within the environment created by Tplf. She is one who has greatly benefited from the system in more than one way. She must have NOT been doing anything that upset the powers thay be. Put another way, she must have played along. Another point is that she is a member of the ruling party and married to one.

    There are two major issues plaguing our country. First is violence, attempted assassinations, and torture. Second is corruption. It is a fact that in both instances Tplf is directly involved and/or implicated. This will be the test of Chief Justice Meaza’s Court.

    I do realize Meaza is portrayed as a champion of wome’s rights. She gained prominence as a result of a case she argued and won of a young lady that was kidnapped and raped. Somehow the news got to America and the attention of a film producer. That is fine; but one would ask where Meaza was when children and young women were being sold by the thousands? Not surprisingly, her own party members were fully involved in the racket!

    Dr. Abiy is rightly addressing matters that have created a toxic and unjust environment in the country. I am hoping a mechanism is in place to guage the performance of those appointed to such a high office. No one should feel entitled. Delivering for the people should be the only reason for appointments!

  2. Historic in what sense?
    Is it because we are having more women that have never been before, or because we know for sure that this appointment and appointees are steps of breakthrough in a real and genuine sense of bring about fundamentally democratic and prosperous system ?
    Do we really believe this very huge and critically needed change of a system can be accomplished by the ruling front (EPRDF) that is not definitely and credibly willing and able to get out from the very horrible political quagmire and socio-economic destitution it has caused to the people ?
    Do we really believe that EPRDF has political, moral, and actual authority to claim itself as a leading agent or force of the transition to a fundamentally qualitative democratic republic ?
    Do we believe that the “historic ” appointments and appointees will make a significant difference as long as the very political system remains under the control of EPRDF’s ruling system ?
    Are we witnessing any meaningful participatory process of change especially with regard to opposition political entities? Almost non except their return home ?
    Can we see any of those so-called opposition political groups holding any public appearance let alone meaningful political work other than a relatively encouraging public appearance by Arbegnoch Ginbot 7? Non! The answer is painfully frustrating !
    So, how with all this terribly dysfunctional and disingenuous political atmosphere should we be taken by surprise and highly overblown emotion about the appointments that have never gone through a genuine and critical confirmation process ?
    How it is possible to take those appointees as credible and able figures where we still have a parliament of national disgrace because it is just a bunch of members of the ruling front who are there just to praise any politicians who assumes power and confirm whatever and whoever is proposed ?
    How can we talk a serious talk about genuine and credible political appointment with this kind of disgracefully good for nothing and a very parasitic body that lives at the very expense of the innocent people of Ethiopia who are hit by abject poverty or destitution?
    If we should not fool or deceive ourselves this is the very tough reality we are facing . Until we painfully try to deal with all this and related national issues of our real world , the politics of appointing this or that man or women will never go beyond playing politics for the sake of politics .


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