Catherine Samba-Panza

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Catherine Samba-Panza
Catherine Samba-Panza 2014-09-26.jpg
President of the Central African Republic
In office
23 January 2014 – 30 March 2016
Prime MinisterAndré Nzapayeké
Mahamat Kamoun
Preceded byAlexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet (Acting)
Succeeded byFaustin-Archange Touadéra
Mayor of Bangui
In office
14 June 2013 – 23 January 2014
Preceded byNazaire Yalanga Nganaféï
[citation needed]
Succeeded byHyacinthe Wodobodé[1]
Personal details
Born (1954-06-26) 26 June 1954 (age 66)
Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa (now N'Djamena, Chad)
Political partyIndependent
Alma materPanthéon-Assas University
Secretary Kerry shakes hands with Transitional President Samba-Panza

Catherine Samba-Panza (born 26 June 1954) is a Central African lawyer and politician who served as interim President of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016.[2] 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[3] from 2013 to 2014. She is a non-partisan politician.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Samba-Panza was born on 26 June 1954 in Fort Lamy, Chad, to a mother from the Central African Republic (CAR) and a Cameroonian father.[4] Prior to politics, she was a businesswoman and corporate lawyer.[3] She moved to the CAR at the age of 18.[5] She studied corporate law in Bangui, and was trained in law at Panthéon-Assas University.[6] When she returned to the CAR after her studies in France, she founded a firm of insurance brokers, but unfortunately found that doing business and attracting investment had become a difficult task due to prevailing climate of graft.[7]

Political career[edit]

Mayor of Bangui[edit]

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.[4][8] Her appointment was accepted by both sides in the conflict due to her reputation for neutrality and incorruptibility,[3] as well as by French President Francois Hollande.[5]


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[9] from a list of eight candidates who had to prove they had no links to either the Séléka or the Anti-balaka.[10]

She was to lead the country to the 2015 election. Out 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:[3]

"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.[11]

She was sworn in as President on 23 January 2014.[12] André Nzapayeké was appointed as Prime Minister to serve during her tenure.[13] 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.[14]

Samba-Panza suggested poverty and a failure of governance was the cause of the conflict.[15] Samba-Panza replaced Nzapayeké (a Christian) as Prime Minister with Mahamat Kamoun (a Muslim, but without ties to Séléka) in August 2014.[16] As Séléka had no ties to Kamoun, it threatened to boycott the government and threatened to withdraw from the ceasefire.[17]

Samba-Panza served as President from 23 January 2014 till 30 March 2016 when Faustin-Archange Touadéra was sworn in as President after the 2015–16 Central African general election.[18] During her two years as leader of the transition, she had a very difficult task of task of bringing an end to months of sectarian violence that left her country in tatters and organizing a national election to elect a new President.[19][7]

2020 presidential election bid[edit]

Catherine Samba-Panza announced that she would be running in the 2020 presidential election.[20] She only received 0.9 percent of the vote in the 2020–21 Central African general election.

Personal life[edit]

Samba-Panza is a mother of three.[7] She is married to Cyriaque Samba-Panza a former CAR government official.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arsenault, Claire (2014-02-08). "En Centrafrique, Hyacinthe Wodobodé, une nouvelle maire pour Bangui". (in French). RFI. Retrieved 10 September 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Catherine Samba-Panza". Wayamo Foundation. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Central African Republic MPs elect Catherine Samba-Panza". BBC World News. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c Duhem, Vincent (20 January 2014). "Centrafrique : 5 choses à savoir sur Catherine Samba Panza, la nouvelle présidente de transition". Jeune Afrique (in French).
  5. ^ a b Ngoupana, Paul-Marin (20 January 2014). "Une femme élue à la présidence en Centrafrique". Le Point (in French). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  6. ^ Perrin, Olivier (21 January 2014). "Une "maire courage" pour réconcilier ses enfants de République centrafricaine". Le Soir (in French).
  7. ^ a b c "Catherine Samba-Panza sworn in as new CAR president". France 24. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Catherine Samba Panza prête serment à Bangui" (in French). Radio Ndeke Luka. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Ngoupana, Paul-Marin (20 January 2014). "Central African Republic's capital tense as ex-leader heads into exile". Retrieved 20 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "CAR appoints Bangui mayor as interim leader". Al Jazeera English. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "CAR leader pledges talks with armed groups". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-01-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "New CAR leader sworn in as tensions escalate". Al Jazeera English. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2014-01-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "New CAR PM says ending atrocities is priority". Retrieved 31 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Deep divisions as CAR violence continues". Al Jazeera Blogs. Retrieved 31 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Politics blamed for CAR divisions". Retrieved 31 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "CAR president appoints first Muslim PM". 16 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Seleka ex-rebels refuse to join new CAR government". The M&G Online. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ CAR presidential election: Faustin Touadera declared winner BBC News, 20 February 2016
  19. ^ Welle (, Deutsche (16 February 2016). "Samba-Panza: "I have accomplished my mission" | DW | 16.02.2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  20. ^ Reuters Staff (28 January 2014). "Former Central African Republic interim leader to run in December poll". Reuters. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  21. ^ "100Women | Avance Media | H.E Catherine Samba-Panza". Retrieved 22 January 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet
President of the Central African Republic

Succeeded by
Faustin-Archange Touadéra