Francois Bozize, the former Central African Republic leader, denied backing Christian militias that have wreaked havoc in the country and called on the current president who deposed him to resign in an interview broadcast Thursday.
The Central African Republic has plunged into chaos since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels staged a coup in March, prompting French forces to intervene last month after hundreds died in violence pitting the former rebels against Christian militias known as the anti-balaka (anti-machete).
Michel Djotodia, the Seleka leader who was installed as president of the former French colony, has accused Bozize of supporting the Christian militias battling his former rebels - a claim the latter denies.
“It is the Seleka who brought disorder to the country, misery and death. The anti-balaka phenomenon has appeared following abuses committed by the Seleka in the country,” Bozize - who is in exile in an undisclosed location - said in a telephone interview on RFI radio.
“That's what triggered the appearance of the anti-balaka. From my position, I did not create a so-called anti-balaka rebellion.”
Asked whether he condemned the atrocities perpetrated by the Christian militias, he responded: “That's what you say. I'm not on the ground. That's what the press says. If they have committed (atrocities), then I condemn them.”
The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, an unstable and impoverished country, is believed to have killed more than 1,000 people last month and sent tens of thousands fleeing.
Bozize called on Djotodia to resign “so that the situation be brought under control once and for all.”
French President Francois Hollande, who gave the green light for 1,600 French troops to be deployed in the country, has called for new elections to be held.
Bozize did not rule out returning to the country and running in any future vote.
“Nothing is stopping me from being a candidate or not,” he said.
“But let's clear up the security situation in the country.” - Sapa-AFP