Head of ousted Central African leader's party arrested

A motorcycle taxi drives past a sign reading "Welcome to Bangui" near the Bangui airport, on May 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo) (AFP/File)

Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - The secretary general of the party of Francois Bozize, the ousted former president of the Central African Republic, was arrested Saturday as he was about to board a plane for Paris, a party source said.

Bertin Bea was travelling to a funeral, a member of the National Convergence party (KNK) told AFP, requesting anonymity, adding that Bea's passport was confiscated.

A police source said an investigation had been opened following remarks Bea made in June "seen as inciting disorder", without elaborating.

On August 7, Bea announced that Bozize wanted to run for president in October but that "everything is being done to block the way."

The transitional government in the poor former French colony has pointed to UN sanctions against Bozize as justification for barring him from running.

Bozize, who seized power in a 2003 coup, was overthrown 10 years later by the minority Muslim Seleka movement, leading to a conflict that took on a religious dimension, pitting sections of Christian and Muslim populations against one another.

The landlocked nation is set to hold elections in October, but the polls have already been pushed back three times as the country continues to grapple with its worst crisis since independence in 1960.

Bozize as well as several rebel chiefs are under UN sanctions because of their support for brutal militias during the unrest.