News / Africa

New CAR President Works to 'Calm Down' Nation

Catherine Samba-Panza reacts after she was elected as Central African Republic's interim president at the national assembly in Bangui, Jan. 20, 2014.
Catherine Samba-Panza reacts after she was elected as Central African Republic's interim president at the national assembly in Bangui, Jan. 20, 2014.
VOA News
The new interim president of the Central African Republic tells VOA the most important thing to do to bring peace to her country is to "calm people down."

In the first interview since her election Monday, Catherine Samba-Panza tells VOA's French to Africa that she thinks having a woman leader for the CAR will help "calm down those who have hatred in their hearts."

Samba-Panza is the country's first female president and the mayor of the capital, Bangui. She was chosen Monday by a Transitional National Council to lead the country out of months of chaos and Muslim-Christian violence. The instability has driven more than 900,000 people from their homes.

Samba-Panza says the country is in a very difficult situation: "The population is extremely poor. People also need to feel safe everywhere in CAR"

In another development Monday, the World Food Program said it is running out of food in the country because of continued unrest. It says its trucks are positioned at the CAR border with Cameroon, but it says truck drivers refuse to cross the border because of insecurity.

WFP officials say their cereal stocks are close to being exhausted and they will soon run out of legumes. They say that as a last resort, they are considering airlifting the food to the capital, Bangui.

Also Monday, European Union foreign ministers in Brussels 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 there.

The CAR's new president replaces former interim leader Michel Djotodia, who resigned under intense international pressure after he failed to stop the fighting.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Samba-Panza on her election. He said the change of leadership in the CAR offers what he called a "critical opportunity to put the transition process back on track."

The CAR, 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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Comments
     
by: Cosmas .Z. lasuba from: Juba S Sudan
January 29, 2014 12:49 PM
I prays God for the new president car, may God give her power so that she can able to lead her people in peace. So l would like to advice her that let her unity all the religions so that it can bring peace to the nation.

by: obed from: port Harcourt/ Nigeria
January 21, 2014 2:43 AM
She needs support of all and sundry, this is the time to embrace peace!

by: A AHMED from: Nigeria
January 21, 2014 12:02 AM
I hope that new car president wilkend this massacre and maintain law accross whole cauntry

by: John from: USA
January 20, 2014 10:17 PM
Amazing, a woman president in and African country. Is this a first? For me, that represents real hope for CAR and Africa as a whole. I will send good thoughts your way Ms. Samba Panza, for what they are worth (a lot if the people of your country follows suit). I will also pray that you can recognize and not succumb to the corruption that is seemingly 100% the norm on your continent.
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
January 21, 2014 2:32 AM
John, Cathrine Samba-Panza is the third female president in Africa. The first is an international Nobel Peace Prize winner Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the current president of Liberia while the second one is the head of state of Malawi her name is Joyce Hilda Banda. I strongly believe the more female president we got have in Africa the more hopeful I become and the better place for Americans to do business with Africans.
In addition, I have to agree with you that corruption essentially became part of culture among predominantly powerful male politicians. For example, in war ravaged Somalia, according to UN report, almost 75% of Western cash aid plus 85% of local revenue mysteriously vanished into thin air!. There is no outcry from donor countries and Somali officials continue to behave as if there is nothing serious had happened.
Again I'm very hopeful that more female head of state in Africa will rescue us from this evil corruptions and antiquated tribal/clan based civil wars.

by: Joseph Effiong from: Calabar - niger
January 20, 2014 10:15 PM
May the Lord God bring peace to this nation. All should embrace peace and live in harmony with one another.

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