An interim parliament in Central African Republic (CAR) has selected 59-year-old Catherine Samba-Panza as the person to lead the country until elections can be held in a year. She was previously the mayor of the capital city of Bangui. For over a year CAR has been on a brink of what some say is a possible religious civil war.
The most recent conflict in CAR broke out in March 2013 with a coup d’etat led by Muslim fighters in the ex-Seleka rebel movement. Rebels in Central African Republic seized the riverside capital Bangui, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee and sowing confusion over who ruled the mineral-rich heart of Africa.
The leader of the coup Michel Djotodia was sworn in as President and led the nation for 10 months until he was forced to step down by France and other Western powers because he failed to end the violence. In December alone, some 1000 people were killed.
Catherine Samba-Panza was elected over seven other candidates, including the sons of two former presidents.
She is the first woman from Central African Republic to be sworn as President. Samba-Panza, Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia are Africa’s three female leaders out of 54 nations.
GoWoman salutes first woman President Catherine Samba-Panza!