Coup leaders in Mali have agreed to stand down and allow a transition to civilian rule, as part of a deal struck with regional bloc, ECOWAS.

Under the terms of the transition plan, military rulers will cede power to the Parliamentary Speaker, Diouncounda Traore, who as interim president will organise elections in 40 days.

Mediators say the bloc will lift trade and economic sanctions and grant amnesty to the ruling junta.

Meanwhile, Mali’s political problems have been expanded by the declaration of independence of Azawad in the north by the Tuareg rebels.

The rebels seized the area after a coup by the military two weeks ago, plunging the West African nation into further political crisis.