Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis passed away on Saturday, two weeks short of his 94th birthday, according to state media. Girma was president of Ethiopia for twelve years between 2001 to 2013. His death was reported by the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) and other state media. Girma was a fluent speaker in Ethiopia’s working language Amharic, his native language Afan Oromo as well as English and French.
In recent years Girma had been active in efforts to foster reconciliation between former foes Ethiopia and Eritrea who declared an end to two decades of hostility in July.
Former President Girma Wolde-Giorgis short life story
Girma Wolde-Giorgis was born on 28 December 1924 in Addis Ababa. He first attended an Ethiopian Orthodox Church school and later joined the Teferi Mekonnen School in Addis Ababa where he followed his education until the Italian invasion. The school was then renamed “Scuola Principe di Piemonte” (Prince of Piedmont School) for the Crown Prince of Italy, in Addis Ababa.
Between 1950 and 1952, he received certificates in Management (from the Netherlands), in Air Traffic Management (in Sweden) and Air Traffic Control (in Canada) under a training programme sponsored by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He was one of the first Ethiopians in the Ethiopian airforce dominated by American technicians. Girma tried to motivate Ethiopians to join the airlines and wrote a book on fundamentals. He was an activist and in the Inter-Parliamentary Summit in Yugoslavia, he condemned the apartheid system in South Africa. Girma spoke Afan Oromo (Oromiffa), Amharic, and English fluently.
Wolde-Giorgis was elected President on 8 October 2001, as a relatively unknown and a surprising choice, by a unanimous vote of the Ethiopian Parliament. The Ethiopian presidency is largely a symbolic office with little power. Most of the power is vested in the hands of the Prime Minister. Presidents serve two six-year terms. He was re-elected as President on 9 October 2007.
Wolde-Giorgis was from the Oromo ethnic group. He was married and had five children. He was a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He was widely renowned for his usual presence at Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Meskel Demera Festivals. Girma Wolde-Giorgis died from natural causes on 15 December 2018 at the age of 94.