(Bloomberg) -- A United Nations Security Council delegation urged Mali to restore civilian rule after two coups in less than a year as the ruling junta said it needs more time to prepare the transition.

Mali’s under pressure from its regional neighbors to hold presidential elections by February 2022. 

“We want a swift transition in line with the timetable established by the Economic Community of West African States that ends with Malians electing new leaders,” Abdou Abarry, Niger’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters following a two-day visit to the country.

The Security Council delegation, led by Kenya, Niger and France and joined by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, met with the transition leaders and armed groups, signatories of the 2015 peace agreement. 

“This is an opportunity for us to show the reality in Mali, the progress of the transition, but also our vision for a transition through free and credible elections,” Mali’s foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, told French broadcaster France24.  

Mali’s struggling to contain a decade-long Islamist insurgency that spread from the country’s north in 2015 to its more populated center, and more recently its south, where international miners including Barrick Gold Corp., Firefinch Ltd. and B2 Gold Corp. operate. 

France’s permanent representative to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said the Security Council was ready to reinforce the peacekeeping mission to help Mali address the security threat. The 15,000-strong force, known as MINUSMA, has faced 158 deaths with 426 injured since the force deployed in 2014.

The UN delegation continues to Niger Sunday to discuss the security situation in the Sahel region with Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum. 

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