Mali's West African neighbours have told the military junta that seized control ten days ago it must transfer power to a civilian-led transitional government immediately, and hold elections within a year.
Following the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18., the 15-member ECOWAS group suspended Mali from its institutions, shut borders and halted financial flows with the country.
It reinforced that hard line on Friday night, because of fears prolonged instability in Mali could undermine the fight against Islamist militants there and in the wider Sahel region.
ECOWAS said it would lift sanctions gradually if the coup leaders complied with four demands.
A transitional government must be formed quickly; it must oversee legislative and presidential elections within a year; Mali's transitional president and prime minister must be civilians and be banned from running in those elections.
The junta said it was studying the bloc's declaration.
And issued a statement inviting Mali's political parties, including Keita's ruling coalition, to a meeting on Saturday to discuss the organisation of the transition.
But some members of the opposition coalition, the M5-RFP, said it was up to Mali to decide timings, and identify what needed to be done -- and accused ECOWAS of misreading the situation.
The junta leaders said they seized power because the country was sinking into chaos, insecurity and corruption, blaming poor leadership.
The soldiers behind the coup are anxious to get the sanctions lifted and, as a gesture of goodwill, released Keita on Thursday and allowed him to return home.