Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza has been elected the interim president of the Central African Republic, making her the first woman to hold the post.
She beat her rival Desire Kolingba in the second round of voting by the interim parliament.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers agreed at a meeting on Monday to send troops to CAR, diplomatic sources said.
Violence has continued, with two Muslim men killed and burnt in the capital Bangui on Sunday.
Nearly a million people have been forced from their homes – 20% of the population – by the conflict between Muslims and Christians.
Ms Samba-Panza, a Christian, succeeds CAR’s first Muslim leader Michel Djotodia, who resigned on 10 January under pressure from regional leaders and the former colonial power, France, over his failure to curb the conflict.
There are currently about 4,000 African troops and 1,600 French troops in CAR to help end the violence.
They will be bolstered by about 500 troops that EU foreign ministers have decided to deploy, AFP news agency reports.
Ms Samba-Panza won 75 votes in the run-off, against 53 for Mr Kolingba, the son of a former president.
The election went to a second round after Ms Samba-Panza failed to secure an outright majority in the first round.
Six other candidates were knocked out in the first round.