Girma Wolde-Giorgis

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Girma Wolde-Giorgis
ግርማ ወልደ ጊዮርጊስ
President+girma woldegorgis (cropped).jpg
3rd President of Ethiopia
In office
8 October 2001 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterMeles Zenawi
Hailemariam Desalegn
Preceded byNegasso Gidada
Succeeded byMulatu Teshome
Personal details
Born(1924-12-28)28 December 1924
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Died15 December 2018(2018-12-15) (aged 93)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia[1]
Resting placeHoly Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Political partyIndependent

Girma Wolde-Giorgis (Ge'ez: ግርማ ወልደ ጊዮርጊስ; 28 December 1924 – 15 December 2018)[2] was an Ethiopian politician who was the 3rd President of Ethiopia from 2001 to 2013.[3] He was the second person to hold the office of President since the founding of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia in 1995.

Early life[edit]

Girma Wolde-Giorgis was born on 28 December 1924 in Addis Ababa.[4][5] 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 Piedmonte 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.[6] Girma spoke Afan Oromo (Oromiffa), Amharic, and English fluently.[7]

Political career[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

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.

Wolde-Giorgis died of natural causes on 15 December 2018, 13 days before his 94th birthday.[10]

Government service[edit]

Experience in non-governmental offices[edit]

Between 1965 and 1974:

  • Board member of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce
  • Representative for Australian Trade Mission in Ethiopia
  • Founder and Director of the Ghibe Agricultural Association
  • Founder and Director of the Keffa and Illubabor Timber Processing Industry

While in the then province of Eritrea before 1990:

  • President of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society – Eritrea Branch (Asmara)
  • Board President of Cheshire Home
  • Managing Director of Leprosy Control Organization

Upon returning to Addis Ababa in 1990, he served as Board Member of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and Head of its International Logistics Department.

He launched an environmental protection association called Lem Ethiopia in March 1992 to date serving as Vice President of the Board of the Association.

Two days before Ethiopian Christmas, on 5 January 2014 he made a clear statement on Ethiopia TV, calling for pacification between Ethiopia and Eritrea, calling it his last personal task and fight. He is coordinating from his office a group of people trying to launch peace talks, after fifteen years of disagreements, culminating in the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998–2000.

Official biography[edit]

Indian author Sivakumar K.P. has produced the official biography of Girma Wolde Giorgis. The book, Under the Shade of a Gaashe, was released on 15 July 2015 at the official residence of the former president.[11][12][13] Micro Business College is the publisher of the Ethiopian edition. The author acknowledges the role of Abera Tilahun, founder and president of Micros Business College in Ambo in introducing him to the former president and financing the publishing of the book.


  1. ^ Fortune, Addis. "President Girma Passes Away at 94".
  2. ^ Arefayné Fantahun (14 October 2016). "The Life of Girma Wolde Giorgis". Ethiopia Observer. Archived from the original on 23 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ Ethiopia's President in Saudi Arabia for medical checkup – State Media. (13 March 2012).
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (2010). Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac 2010. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-61535-329-3.
  5. ^ Editors of Time Magazine (2008). Time: Almanac 2009. Time Home Entertainment, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-60320-042-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Eighty-six of prestigious life:‘Yezemen Tirufat’ portrays life of President Girma Woldegiorgis[dead link]
  7. ^ "Final Farewell to Former President Grima Wolde Giorgis".
  8. ^ "Former parliamentary speaker elected president", IRIN, 9 October 2001.
  9. ^ "Girma Woldegiorgis réélu président pour six ans" Archived 18 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, AFP (, 9 October 2007 (in French).
  10. ^ "Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis dies". The East African. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Girma Biography". Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  12. ^ "A Malayali story of Ethiopia's 'Gaashe'". The Hindu. 28 July 2015.
  13. ^ "The Ethiopian Herald". Retrieved 11 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Negasso Gidada
President of Ethiopia
Succeeded by
Mulatu Teshome