|President of the Central African Republic|
23 January 2014 – 30 March 2016
|Prime Minister||André Nzapayeké|
|Preceded by||Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Faustin-Archange Touadéra|
|Mayor of Bangui|
14 June 2013 – 23 January 2014
|Preceded by||Nazaire Yalanga Nganaféï|
|Succeeded by||Hyacinthe Wodobodé|
|Born||26 June 1956|
Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa (now N'Djamena, Chad)
|Alma mater||Panthéon-Assas University|
Catherine Samba-Panza (born 26 June 1956) is a Central African politician who served as interim President of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016. She was the first woman to hold the post of head of state in that country, as well as the eighth woman in Africa to do so. Prior to becoming head of state, she was Mayor of Bangui from 2013 to 2014.
Samba-Panza was born in Fort Lamy, Chad, to a mother from the Central African Republic (CAR) and a Cameroonian father. Prior to politics, she was a businesswoman and corporate lawyer. She moved to the CAR at the age of 18. She was trained in law at Panthéon-Assas University.
She was appointed Mayor of Bangui, the capital of the CAR, by the National Transitional Council (CNT) during the 2012–13 conflict on 14 June 2013. Her appointment was accepted by both sides in the conflict, as well as by French President Francois Hollande. She is a non-partisan.
Following the Central African Republic conflict under the Djotodia administration and President Michel Djotodia's resignation after a CEEAC summit on 10 January 2014, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet served as acting president until the CNT elected Samba Panza as interim President from a list of eight candidates who had to prove they had no links to either the Séléka or the Anti-balaka. She was to lead the country to the 2015 election. Of the MPs who voted in the election, 129 of the 135 MPs were in parliament. After beating Désiré Kolingba in a second round ballot, she said:
"I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Séléka – they should not have fear. I don't want to hear any more talk of murders and killings. Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion."
Her call for talks between both sides to the conflict was welcomed by the parties. She was sworn in as President on 23 January 2014. André Nzapayeké was appointed as Prime Minister to serve during her tenure. She presided over a period that was said to be without law, functioning police or courts. Comparisons were drawn in asking if this would be the "next Rwanda;" although Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips suggested the Bosnian Genocide's aftermath may be more apt as people were moving into religiously cleansed neighbourhoods. Samba-Panza suggested poverty and a failure of governance was the cause of the conflict.
Samba-Panza replaced Nzapayeké (a Christian) as Prime Minister with Mahamat Kamoun (a Muslim, but without ties to Séléka) in August 2014. As Séléka had no ties to Kamoun, it threatened to boycott the government and threatened to withdraw from the ceasefire.
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| President of the Central African Republic