Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza elected to serve as Central African Republic Interim President .Samba-Panza 58, will lead the country to national elections.
Her appointment came from an unusual assortment of unelected rebel sympathizers, politicians, artists and others who have filled in as a substitute parliament for a nation that has suffered turmoil for the last months.
She defeated seven other candidates, including the sons of two former presidents and a man whose claim to hold degrees that no other Central Africans possess drew hoots of derision in the assembly chamber on Monday.
She was elected in a five-hour process involving two separate hand counts and the double reading-out of all 120-odd members of the assembly.
Among her first tasks is tamping down the animosity between Muslims and Christians that has resulted in well over 1,000 deaths in the last six weeks alone.
Ms. Samba-Panza, an insurance broker who led state-sponsored reconciliation efforts after a previous civil war, was said by supporters to be untainted by the nine-month reign of terror unleashed under the man she replaced, Michel Djotodia.
Mr. Djotodia, who installed himself as president after leading Muslim rebels in a coup in March last year , was forced to resign more than a week ago by regional and Western powers for allowing the sectarian bloodshed, which some in the United Nations warn could be the early stages of genocide.
There are daily revenge attacks between Christian militias, known as anti-balaka, and the remnants of the Muslim rebels, called Seleka, with most of the violence now coming from the Christians.