Ethiopia chose a former exiled dissident to head its election board on Thursday – part of a dizzying shake-up by the new prime minister that has brought rebels back into the political mainstream and curbed the establishment.
The job went to Birtukan Mideksa just weeks after she returned from the United States under an amnesty announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and 13 years after she was imprisoned in the violent aftermath of contested 2005 elections.
Birtukan, a former judge, will now lead efforts to organise elections scheduled for 2020 – the latest top position to go to a woman after SahleWork Zewde was named president and Abiy chose women to fill half his cabinet posts last month.
“We are appointing her considering her knowledge of the constitution and the law of the nation,” Abiy told parliament.
“She might have her own opinions and sayings like anyone, but we believe she will act according to the constitution,” he said after several MPs raised concerns about her impartiality given her previous role in opposition politics.