|President of the Central African Republic|
23 January 2014 – 30 March 2016
|Preceded by||Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Faustin-Archange Touadéra|
|Mayor of Bangui|
14 June 2013 – 23 January 2014
Nazaire Yalanga Nganaféï|
|Succeeded by||Hyacinthe Wodobodé|
26 June 1956|
Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa (now N'Djamena, Chad)
|Alma mater||Panthéon-Assas University|
Catherine Samba-Panza (born 26 June 1956) was 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.
- Arsenault, Claire (2014-02-08). "En Centrafrique, Hyacinthe Wodobodé, une nouvelle maire pour Bangui". rfi.fr (in French). RFI. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- "Central African Republic MPs elect Catherine Samba-Panza". BBC World News. 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Duhem, Vincent (20 January 2014). "Centrafrique : 5 choses à savoir sur Catherine Samba Panza, la nouvelle présidente de transition". Jeune Afrique (in French).
- Ngoupana, Paul-Marin (20 January 2014). "Une femme élue à la présidence en Centrafrique". Le Point (in French).
- Perrin, Olivier (21 January 2014). "Une "maire courage" pour réconcilier ses enfants de République centrafricaine". Le Soir (in French).
- "Catherine Samba Panza prête serment à Bangui" (in French). Radio Ndeke Luka. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Paul-Marin Ngoupana. "Central African Republic's capital tense as ex-leader heads into exile". Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "CAR appoints Bangui mayor as interim leader". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
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- "New CAR leader sworn in as tensions escalate". Al Jazeera English. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
- "New CAR PM says ending atrocities is priority". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- "Deep divisions as CAR violence continues". Al Jazeera Blogs. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- "Politics blamed for CAR divisions". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- "CAR president appoints first Muslim PM". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
- "Seleka ex-rebels refuse to join new CAR government". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
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| President of the Central African Republic