Catherine Samba-Panza has been chosen as the interim president for the troubled Central African Republic. She edged out Desire Kolingba, the son of a former president, in an election by the transitional parliament, to become the country’s first woman leader.
Samba-Panza called for an end to the violence by the Muslim Seleka ex-rebels and Christian self-defense militias known as anti-balaka (machetes).
Catherine Samba-Panza said, “I’m launching a resounding appeal to my anti-balaka children who are listening to me: Show your support for my nomination by giving the strong signal of laying down your weapons.” She is a Christian but did not campaign on a religious platform.
Samba-Panza, who was the mayor of CAR’s capital Bangui, has fought for equal rights for women and for the rights of sexual violence victims.
Catherine Samba-Panza is married with three children.