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AU backs calls for Mali junta to hand over to civilian rule

The African Union (AU) has urged the military junta in Mali to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections following last month's coup.

The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui called for a return to constitutional order.

It follows a similar demand by the West African regional bloc Ecowas, which imposed sanctions after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was ousted.

Mali's military rulers met West African leaders this week but correspondents say the soldiers who seized power appear reluctant to let a civilian lead the transition.