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Francois Bozize

First woman to lead Central African Republic faces daunting task

First woman to lead Central African Republic faces daunting task

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Lawmakers in the Central African Republic on Monday elected the country's first female leader, Catherine Samba-Panza, as interim president to take on the daunting job of halting sectarian killings, stabilizing a paralyzed country and ushering in elections.

Samba-Panza, a French-educated businesswoman who has been serving as mayor of the country's capital, Bangui, emerged ahead of seven other candidates, including the sons of two former presidents, after a speech pledging to reconcile the country's divisions, restore security and rebuild the collapsed state.

The political change, coupled with pledges Monday from the European Union to send 1,000...

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