BANGUI (Reuters) – Former Central Africa Republic’s transitional leader Catherine Samba-Panza, who guided the country from 2014 to 2016, has declared she will challenge incumbent President Faustin Archange Touadera in the Dec. 27 election.
Samba-Panza, 64, who became the first woman to lead the country of 4.6 million in the wake of a political crisis in 2012-2013, said on Friday that she took the decision after many people had encouraged her to run.
“In the face of increased socio-political tension and the degrading security in the country, many appealed from all sides of the political spectrum, asking me to run,” Samba-Panza said in a speech to supporters in the capital.
“I have proven that I wasn’t infected by the virus of power by keeping the constitutional commitment not to run in 2016,” she said.
Touadera, who was elected in 2016, is expected to seek a second term in the election but has not yet confirmed he will run.
Deposed former president Francois Bozize who was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion by a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels from the north, plunging the majority Christian nation into a violent civil war, has announced he will be running in the December election.
Stability remains fragile in the country despite the presence of over 12,000 United Nations peacekeepers, and the signing of peace deals between armed groups.
(Reporting by Antoine Rolland; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Susan Fenton)