Catherine Samba-Panza wasted no time after being elected interim president of the Central African Republic.
Tasked with ending months of sectarian killings and guiding the country through to elections, she made an immediate call for the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and ‘anti-balaka’ Christian militia to lay down their weapons.
People chanted and danced on the streets of Bangui upon hearing the news that their former mayor had been elected the CAR’s first female head of state.
Many hope the election of an interim president with no links to either the Seleka rebels or Christian militia will help to restore calm to the nation.
One journalist asked Samba-Panza if she was happy.
“Yes,” she replied. “I’m honouring the women of the Central African Republic.”
Meanwhile, both Seleka rebels and their opponents are also said to have accepted the outcome.
Voted in by a transitional parliament, the businesswoman succeeds Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Seleka rebels, who seized power in March.
He stepped down under intense international pressure on January 10, after failing to put an end to inter-religious clashes which, according to UN officials, have killed more than 2,000 people.