The president of the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, said Tuesday that the leader he ousted in a violent coup can return from exile when the situation in the country stabilises.
Djotodia, who toppled president Francois Bozize in March, made the comments during a visit to Benin, his second stop on a west African diplomatic tour.
"Bozize is Central African. He can return home when calm is restored. He is free and we will not oppose his return," Djotodia told journalists ahead of his meeting with Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi.
In May, Central African authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Bozize on charges of "crimes against humanity" and "inciting genocide."
Djotodia made no comment on whether Bozize would be arrested upon his return.
Bozize's whereabouts are unknown, although there are indications that he is still in Cameroon, where he fled after being ousted.
The coup plunged the landlocked country of some 4.5 million people into chaos, with rights groups last month warning of a severe humanitarian crisis affecting the entire population.
Djotodia's former rebel coalition Seleka has been accused of committing widespread atrocities.
These have included the killing of civilians and the torching of villages, according to Human Rights Watch.
The nation is also facing severe food shortages, the aid group Action Against Hunger said last month.
The agriculture minister in the country's transitional government, Marie-Noel Koyara, was also on the Benin trip and warned of a looming famine if the country does not receive an injection of foreign aid in the next three months.
"With our suspension from the African Union (AU), the entire international community is not paying attention to the suffering of the population," Koyara said.
The AU has frequently suspended member states after a coup has been carried out.