Central African Republic profile

Interim president: Catherine Samba-Panza

Central African Republic interim president Catherine Samba-Panza Mrs Samba-Panza has the task of restoring peace

Catherine Samba-Panza was chosen as new interim president in January 2014 to lead the country out of months of sectarian killings.

Mrs Samba-Panza, is a French-trained lawyer who was the mayor of the capital Bangui.

Her selection by parliament came at a time of deepening international involvement in the Central African Republic following waves of killing and looting that forced 1 million people - nearly a quarter of the population - to flee.

The country descended into chaos when mainly Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, seized power in March 2013.

Abuses by Seleka fighters triggered revenge attacks by Christian militia known as 'anti-balaka', fuelling unprecedented violence between communities that had lived side-by-side.

Mrs Samba-Panza succeeded Seleka leader Michel Djotodia who stepped down as interim president under international pressure over his failure to end the bloodshed.

The appointment of a candidate with no links to either camp in the fighting raised hopes of an end to the slaughter.

Mrs Samba-Panza is Africa's third female head of state, after Malawi's Joyce Banda and Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

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