Amid Crisis, Central African Republic’s First Female President

Two weeks after the Central African Republic’s interim president Michel Djotdia stepped down, the country has elected its first female president, Catherine Samba-Panza.

CAR’s transitional parliament chose Samba-Panza over seven other candidates for office. Previously, she has served as mayor of the capital, Bangui, and worked with the Association of Women Lawyers in Central Africa and as a human rights trainer with Amnesty International.

CAR has endured months of sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims. Currently, there are 1,600 French and 4,000 troops from other African countries in the country to help restore peace. One of Samba-Panza’s first acts in office, however, was to ask for more, particularly from the European Union.

Samba-Panza is a Christian, but has no links to ether of the groups involved in the current violence, so observers hope she will be able to negotiate peace. Both Christians and Muslims supported her appointment as mayor of Bangui.

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