Former mayor of Bangui Catherine Samba-Panza has been elected interim president of the Central African Republic (CAR), tasked with ending months of sectarian killings and guiding the country through to elections.
Samba-Panza defeated seven other candidates, including her rival Desire Kolingba, to become the CAR’s first female head of state.
A transitional parliament voted her in to succeed Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Seleka rebels, who seized power in March.
He stepped down in January, under intense international pressure after failing to put an end to inter-religious clashes.
Many hope the election of an interim president with no links to either the Muslim Seleka rebels or ‘anti-balaka’ Christian militia will help to restore calm to the nation.
France deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony in December, but has failed to halt the violence which UN officials say has killed more than 2,000 people.