World Press Freedom Day 2019
Head of Elections Board (Ethiopia)
Birtukan Midekssa was born 1974, in Addis Ababa. She is a former federal judge who left the judiciary because of the Executive interference in courts, and became first female leader of the pro-democracy political party in 2005.
Birtukan was jailed after the disputed elections of 2005, when her party won unprecedented number of seats and later in 2007 she was sentenced to life imprisonment. Eventually, she made her way to the U.S as an exile where she became a Democracy Fellow at National Endowment for Democracy. She was also a research fellow for Scholars At Risk Program at Harvard, where she explored major challenges of democratization in Ethiopia.
Birtukan got her first degree, bachelor of laws (L.L.B), from Addis Ababa University, and her Masters from Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Public Administration.
After spending 7 years in exile in the United States of America she returned to her country in November 2018 and has been sworn to lead the country’s electoral body. She is now the chairperson of the National Election Board of Ethiopia.