The interim president of the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, resigned Friday amid growing pressure to step aside less than a year after he seized power earlier this year.
Djotodia, the Seleka rebel leader-turned-president, was installed as president after his mostly Muslim fighters stormed the capital Bangui in March and overthrew the Christian-led government.
The country has since deteriorated into near anarchy in the months that have followed and the violence has turned Muslim and Christian communities against each other. French and African troops deployed in the country have also struggled to stop the violence.
Djotodia was installed as interim president under a deal with regional African states, but he has been powerless to halt the bloodshed, which has stirred fears of a repeat of Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
The country's prime minister Nicolas Tiangaye is also stepping down, according to an announcement made by the secretary-general of the regional bloc of Central African states Ahmat Allami.
On Thursday, while Djotodia was in neighboring Chad for a summit with regional leaders who want to end the bloodshed that has left more than 1,000 dead and nearly a million people displaced, a spokesman for the anti-Balaka ("anti-machete," the weapon of choice of many Seleka fighters) Christian militia — whose attack on Bangui on Dec. 5 sparked heavy unrest — called for his immediate departure.
"We would like him to resign. We can reconcile with the Muslim community which has been peacefully living with us for years. Our sole enemy is Mr. Djotodia with his entourage and the Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries who brought him to power," said Sebastien, who only gave his first name.
United Nations officials, meanwhile, are warning the U.N. Security Council that Central African Republic is on the brink of a catastrophe, with half the population made homeless since fighting broke out.
The Security Council was told that about 2.2 million people throughout the Central African Republic need assistance — equivalent to about half the total population.
In December the Security Council authorized a multinational African peacekeeping force, which is expected to increase its troop strength from about 2,500 to 3,500, to contain the violence.
France sent in about 1,600 troops on Dec. 9 to back them up.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press