African leaders have called on Mali's ex-junta to stop meddling in the country's affairs as the interim government struggles to deal with Islamist militants holding the north.

The African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Saturday called for the "effective dissolution" of Mali's former junta and an end to "unacceptable interference" in the transitional process.

Leaders behind the March military coup are supposed to have stepped down from power to let the transition get underway for a return to democracy.

PSC Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra briefed reporters on the conclusions of the group.

The Council wanted "an end to the unacceptable interference by the military junta and its civilian supporters in the transitional process and the effective dissolution" of the former junta, he said.

African decisions

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday that it was up to Africans to decide how and when to intervene militarily over the Islamist occupation of northern Mali.

The first priority was "a real government in Mali which can assume its responsibilities", said Hollande in a televised interview on Bastille Day. 

But, after that, "for an intervention in the framework of the African Union and the United Nations to take place, it's up to Africans to determine the moment and the force.

"We must show solidarity," he added. "At the Security Council, there is a resolution which would enable precisely that intervention to be made with the backing of the UN."

The African Union and the West African bloc ECOWAS were readying sanctions on those hampering the transition and a list of the individuals was being drawn up, Lamamra added.

There was "grave concern over the situation in northern Mali, where armed groups have strengthened their grip on the region", he added.

He underlined what he said was the "worrying" presence of foreign armed groups such as such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Boko Haram, an armed Islamist group based in Nigeria.

Mali's territorial integrity was not up for discussion, Lamamra said, underscoring "Africa's determination to spare no effort to preserve it".

Source: Agencies