Mali’s coup leader pledged on Sunday to immediately begin a return to civilian rule.
Captain Amadou Sanogo told reporters he would re-establish the country’s constitution and its state institutions.
The decision came hours before the expiry of a deadline set by African neighbours demanding a reversal of power through democratic elections.
“We are making the solemn commitment to re-establish, starting from today, the constitution of the republic of Mali which came into effect in February 1992 as well as the republic’s institutions,” said Sanogo.
“We promise to engage in talks, in the presence of independent mediators – to establish transitional institutions – with a view to organising peaceful, free, open and democratic elections – of which we will not take part,” he added.
Sunday’s pledge comes after major gains by Tuareg and Islamist rebels who are leading an insurgency in northern Mali. Timbuktu is the latest town to come under attack after rebels captured the towns of Gao and Kidal.
Mali’s military overthrew the government on March 21 frustrated at attempts to confront the insurgency.