The president of Central African Republic called on young people not to be "manipulated" into taking up arms as he addressed a public meeting on Saturday in the capital of Bangui.
President Michel Djotodia, the former leader of the now disbanded Seleka rebel group that toppled former president Francois Bozize in a March coup, added that security and stability were "vital" for the country's future.
"I want young people... to say no to manipulation, of trying to pit some against others, the result being that young people take up guns, machetes and clubs to put the lives of their fellow men in danger.
"We refuse to allow our youth to be used. It is them who pay the heaviest price," he added.
Djotodia said he wanted traditional leaders to lead the country out of a spiral of violence, adding that "for the re-establishment of the state and the organisation of future elections, security and stability are vital."
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced the "unprecedented" violence in the country this week, as villagers fled a fresh wave of attacks and summary executions perpetrated by rebels and government forces in the country's northwest.
Former Seleka commanders have established mini-fiefdoms scattered across the country in which they sow terror among the local population.
In some areas, villagers have responded by forming vigilante groups, some of which have specifically targeted Muslims. Government forces now face the daunting task of bringing all of these groups under control.