Rebels in Central African Republic said they had halted their advance on the capital on Wednesday and would start peace talks, averting a clash with regionally-backed troops in the mineral-rich nation.
The announcement gave only a limited reprieve for President Francois Bozize as the insurgents told Reuters they might insist on his removal in the negotiations in Gabon's capital Libreville.
Seleka rebels, who accuse the president of reneging on an earlier peace deal, had advanced to within striking distance of the capital Bangui after a three-week onslaught.
"I have asked our forces not to move their positions starting today because we want to enter talks in Libreville for a political solution," Seleka spokesman Eric Massi told Reuters by telephone from Paris.
"I am in discussion with our partners to come up with proposals to end the crisis, but one solution could be a political transition that excludes Bozize," he added.