JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The mayor of the Central African Republic's capital was elected by lawmakers Monday as the country's new interim leader, after the resignation of former rebel leader Michel Djotodia, who seized power last year.
Bangui Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza emerged ahead of seven other candidates vying for the post, including two sons of former presidents.
International human rights advocates hailed the choice of Samba-Panza, who is seen as independent and courageous.
Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert called it "a step in the right direction," describing Samba-Panza as a courageous voice for peace and reconciliation. However, she faces a tough job stemming the tide of sectarian violence that has torn the country since Djotodia's Seleka rebel group seized power last March.
Djotodia, the first Muslim to lead the majority Christian nation, resigned on Jan. 10 under pressure from regional powers. Since his rebel forces ousted President Francois Bozize in a coup, nearly 1 million people have been displaced and many have been killed in Muslim-Christian violence.
[For the Record, 7:40 a.m. PST Jan. 20: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of the Central African Republic's new interim leader as Catherine Samba-Panga. Her name is Samba-Panza. Also, the post previously stated that Samba-Panza won the post over a field of eight other candidates. There were seven others.]
Twitter: @latimesdixonCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times