First Woman To Lead Central African Republic As Interim President

Catherine Samba-Panza. Photo c/o

Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, an insurance broker by training, will become interim President of the Central African Republic today, the first woman to lead the nation.  Her goal is to lead the nation, beleaguered by a collapse of national government authority, to national elections within a year.

As the New York Times reports,

“Her appointment came from an unusual assortment of unelected rebel sympathizers, politicians, artists and others who have filled in as a substitute parliament for a nation so fractured that it has suffered a total breakdown of the state in recent months.

Now, hopes are high here that she can halt this impoverished nation’s precipitous “free fall,” as the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, put it in a statement on Monday.

There was singing and dancing in the streets of the dilapidated capital on Monday afternoon, and inside the cavernous chamber of the assembly, female spectators broke into joyful shouts, cheers and trilling. The consensus, in the chamber and on the street, was that men had inexorably led the country into a spiral of vicious violence, and that the only hope was for a woman to lead it out.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, and who cheered loudly when the speaker announced Ms. Samba-Panza’s victory. “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope,” she said.”

– More at the New York Times 

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