Catherine Samba-Panza Sworn in as New President of Central African Republic

First Woman To Lead Central African Republic

Hoping to end hostilities in the Central African Republic, the country’s national transitional council has chosen Catherine Samba-Panza to lead the strife-torn African nation.

Ms. Samba-Panza, a former mayor of Bangui, was sworn in as the the new president of the Republic on Thursday.

The delegation of the new leader aims to end hostilities between rival Muslim and Christian militias in the impoverished nation.

Classroom in Sam Ouandja

The country has been gripped by instability after Seleka rebels led by Michel Djotodia seized power in a coup in March 2013. The rebel group has launched a campaign of killing, raping and looting, forcing Christian communities to form vigilante groups.

Samba-Panza, 59, faces huge responsibilities and challenges as she seeks to re-establish stability and restoring peace in the country.

The international donors pledged $496 million dollars in aid to the Central African Republic for 2014.

A Glimpse Into The Life Of The New Leader

Samba-Panza was born on June 26, 1954 in Chad. She studied corporate law in Bangui and then in Paris.

When she returned to the CAR, she founded a firm of insurance brokers.

In 2003, she joined the political arena after then-president Ange-Felix Patasse was ousted in a coup led by Francois Bozize.

US welcomes The Selection Of Ms. Samba-Panza As CAR’s New President

In a press statement in Washington DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States welcomes the selection of Catherine Samba-Panza as Transitional President in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.).

He said as C.A.R.’s first woman head of state since the country’s independence, and with her special background in human rights work and mediation, Ms. Samba-Panza has a unique opportunity to advance the political transition process, bring all the parties together to end the violence, and move her country toward elections not later than February 2015.

The US commended the Transitional National Council for conducting the selection process for the new C.A.R. Transitional President in a deliberate, open, and transparent manner that ensured the airing of a full range of views from C.A.R.’s civil society.

According to Secretary Kerry, tThe United States has been deeply engaged in the work to help pull C.A.R. back from the brink, including the pivotal visits of Ambassador Power and Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield less than a month ago.

He highlighted that the United States, along with regional leaders of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African Union, and other members of the international community, hopes to support President Samba-Panza and call on the people of C.A.R. to work constructively with her, participate in the political process, and avoid any resurgence in violence.

Seleka Group In A Mission To Stir Up Violence

In December 2012, Seleka forces launched a violent spree from the northeast region of the country toward the capital city of Bangui.

On March 24, the rebel group took over the capital of Bangui by force. President Bozize fled the country, and Djotodia declared himself president, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the national assembly. Reports of rape perpetrated by Seleka groups made headlines too. Reports say ten women per day came to NGO Bangui offices from April to August to report being raped; since September, five women per day report being raped.

With no one to pinpoint the rapists and bring them to trial, violence continues with total impunity.

Fear and tension hunted the capital of Bangui’s streets at night. In addition, Mr. Djotodia’s announcement in September that he had dissolved the Seleka force was nothing more than a smoke screen as Seleka fighters continue to carry weapons and deny the use of arms to “legitimate” law enforcement authorities whose efforts are needed to end the lawlessness in the C.A.R.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.