A woman to lead the transition in the Central African Republic

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A woman to lead the transition in the Central African Republic

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014. The Women for Africa Foundation congratulates Catherine Samba-Panza on her election yesterday in the Parliament of the Central African Republic as Acting President of the country. The Foundation wishes her every success in her new position and hopes her appointment will lead to progress in resolving the armed conflict that has raged in the country for several months now, and which has affected half the population, according to data from the United Nations.

Indeed, in her first public statement, the hitherto mayor of Banghi called on the warring parties to lay down their weapons to put an end to the suffering of the people and restore security in the country.

The Central African Republic has been in a state of armed conflict since March last year, when a majority Muslim rebel coalition ousted President François Bozizé from power. After the overthrow, Michel Djotodia became president of the Republic. He is now being replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza after the rebel leader resigned on 10th January due to international pressure following his inability to resolve the conflict.

The main tasks the new president must face most notably include resolving the country’s humanitarian crisis and reviving an administration that has been at a standstill since the beginning of the confrontation between the Muslim Séléka guerrilla and the Christian anti-balaka militias.

A lawyer by profession, Catherine Samba-Panza studied higher education in France and held several management positions in the private sector for decades. She has extensive experience in senior positions in non-governmental organizations such as the Association of Women Lawyers and the Network for the Defense of Human Rights, both in the Central African Republic. She also collaborated with Amnesty International, touring several countries in the Great Lakes region to train various NGOs in human rights.

As for politics, Samba-Panza was part of the National Dialogue Committee set up in 2003 for national reconciliation and recovery. Since May 2013, she has been the mayor of the capital, a position she now leaves to take charge of the political transition of the Central African Republic. 

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