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Central African Republic: Samba-Panza elected interim President

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Central African Republic's transitional parliament has elected the mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza, as its interim president, tasked with ending months of sectarian killings and guiding the country to elections. Samba-Panza, who defeated seven other candidates, succeeds Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Seleka rebels who seized power in March,2 map centraol.eps 2013. Djotodia has now stepped down under intense international pressure after failing to halt inter-religious violence which has displaced more than a million people in the Central African Republic which is 20 per cent of the population. Samba-Panza was elected in a second-round runoff by 75 votes to 53 for her rival Desire Kolingba, the son of former president Andre Kolingba. The landlocked former French colony descended in chaos in March, 2013 after Seleka unleashed a wave of killing and looting, triggering revenge attacks by Christian militia known as 'anti-balaka'.

Huge task ahead: The new interim president now faces the huge task of bringing peace to the sectarian conflict between the Muslim Seleka fighters and the Christian anti-Balaka militias, as well as facilitating the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to their villages and restoring a functioning government. It is now hoped that the election of a new interim president with no links to either camp will help to bring calm to the nation of 4.6 million people. As per the latest reports Antoine Mbao Bogo, head of the CAR's Red Cross, fighting in the Central African Republic capital has left 43 people dead between 28th January 2014 and 31st January 2014. The recent attacks have largely targeted Muslim civilians. The Muslims have accused of having supported the Seleka rebels who overthrew the government in March 2013, ushering in months of violence against the Christian majority. An armed Christian movement known as the anti-Balaka arose in opposition to Seleka, and included supporters of ousted president Francois Bozize.  Nearly 5,000 African Union peacekeepers and 1,600 French troops are working to secure the country. Most of those peacekeepers, though, remain in Bangui, even as violence soars in the remote northwest.