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Bangui Mayor Chosen as Interim CAR Leader

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Lawmakers in the troubled Central African Republic have chosen the mayor of the capital, Bangui, to serve as the country's interim president.

Catherine Samba-Panza will have the task of trying to stop months of chaos and Muslim-Christian violence that have driven more than 900,000 people from their homes.

Samba-Panza -- who becomes the CAR's first female president -- replaces former interim leader Michel Djotodia, who resigned under intense international pressure after he failed to stop the fighting.

In Brussels Monday, European Union foreign ministers approved a plan to send hundreds of peacekeepers to the CAR. The EU operation would be in support of 1,600 French troops and nearly 5,000 African soldiers already in the country.

The United States said it is providing an additional $30 million to address urgent humanitarian needs in the CAR.

The World Food Program said Monday it is running out of food to feed tens of thousands of people in Bangui and the northwestern town of Bouar. The WFP says 38 trucks of rice are positioned in neighboring Cameroon, but truck drivers refuse to cross the border because of insecurity.

Aid group Save the Children says at least 22 people died near Bouar on Friday when attackers ambushed a convoy of Muslims fleeing sectarian clashes.

Samba-Panza was elected president in a run-off vote, defeating Desire Kolingba, the son of a former CAR leader.

The vote was conducted by a Transitional National Council tasked with leading the CAR toward stability.

The country, which has a history of unrest, descended into chaos last year after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled President Francois Bozize.

Attacks and looting by the rebels sparked the rise of Christian defense groups and a cycle of killings. The U.N. humanitarian agency says 882 people have been killed in Bangui alone since early December.
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