Women occupy half the seats in Ethiopian cabinet, including the post of defence minister, following a major reshuffle by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Aisha Mohammed, a former construction minister, is the first woman to hold the defence portfolio in the strategically important east African nation.

Another woman Muferiat Kamil, who is a former parliament speaker is to lead the newly created peace ministry, which will oversee the intelligence and security agencies.

“The main problem in this country is the lack of peace. This [peace] ministry will be working hard to ensure it prevails,” Abiy told legislators, The Guardian reported.

Elected in April the new president has unveiled a slew of reforms, including the latest measure to create the peace ministry, believed to be for undermining the traditionally powerful security establishment in the authoritarian state.

The 42-year-old has made peace with neighbouring Eritrea and promised a policy of reconciliation with rebel groups in the country, marred by ethnic violence which last year displaced 1.4 million people out of a population of 102 million.

In economic front, he partially privatised key economic sectors such as telecommunications. The economy suffers from foreign exchange shortage, growing inequality, and a shortage of jobs.

Abiy who hail from the country’s largest ethnic community, the Oromo, was picked for the top job by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the rebel coalition that ousted the Derg military regime in 1991.

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