The mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza, waves to National Transitional Council (CNT) members after being elected interim president of the Central African Republic on January 20, 2014, in Bangui.(AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO)
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The mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza, was elected interim president of the Central African Republic Monday, as the EU agreed to send hundreds of troops to help restore peace to the country torn by sectarian bloodshed.Samba-Panza, a businesswoman with a reputation as a fighter who became mayor of the capital in 2011, was elected in a second-round vote by the transitional parliament, becoming the chronically unstable country's first woman leader.The troops will help back 1,600 French soldiers and the African Union's MISCA force, which has 4,400 troops on the ground.Samba-Panza's election comes 10 months after the Seleka rebels overthrew the country's government and installed their leader, Michel Djotodia, as the majority-Christian country's first Muslim president.Some Christian communities responded by forming self-defense militias and attacking Muslims.The violence has uprooted a million people out of a population of 4.6 million, and the United Nations estimates that 2.6 million need urgent humanitarian aid.France, the country's former colonial ruler, welcomed Samba-Panza's election and urged her to hold speedy national polls.
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