The Central African Republic National Assembly announced Monday that it had selected the mayor of the capital, Catherine Samba-Panza, to serve as the interim president.
Samba-Panza, 58, is the first female president of the conflict-ridden country. Her appointment will last for more than a year, with one stated primary agenda item: national elections.
Both the United Nations and the U.S. government welcomed news of Samba-Panza's appointment.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on Monday that called her election "a critical opportunity to put the transition process back on track."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry applauded the "deliberate, open, and transparent" transitional presidential selection process. Kerry also pointed out that Samba-Panza's experience in human rights and mediation positions her well to move the political transition forward and bring warring parties together, with the hope that elections will be held by February 2015.
The newly elected president replaces Michel Djotodia, who resigned as interim president on January 10. A new interim prime minister is expected to be appointed soon; Nicolas Tiangaye resigned the premiership on January 10.
The Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since the Muslim-backed Seleka group took control of Bangui in March 2013 and removed Christian President François Bozizé. Renewed violence broke out in Bangui on December 5, 2013, leaving 16 children dead and 60 injured. In January, a UN official briefed the UN Security Council about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic.
[United Nations] [State Department]