Mali's interim regime on Sunday postponed three days of national talks aimed at planning a transition back to democracy and tackling the security crisis in the Islamist-occupied north.
"The days of national consultations have been postponed to December 10, 11 and 12," an official statement said. The national meeting was due to start on Monday in Bamako.
Several political parties and associations had planned to boycott the meeting, which is being encouraged by Mali's foreign partners.
"I am satisfied with the postponement," said Moussa Diarra, a member of one of Mali's main political coalitions, the Front for Democracy and the Republic (FDR).
"Before the conference we need clear terms of reference and to avoid the political hijacking of the event."
Once one of west Africa's more stable democracies, Mali rapidly imploded after a coup in March ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure's regime.
Angry soldiers seized power after being overwhelmed by a Tuareg separatist rebellion in the north. However the coup did not stop the rapid occupation of the north, a desert area larger than France, by the Tuareg and their Islamist allies.
In Bamako, an interim government quickly stepped in, but the junta, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, still held significant sway.
And in the north, Islamists backed by the regional Al-Qaeda franchise, quickly seized full control, ousting the Tuareg to pursue their goal of running the region according to a severe form of sharia law.
The international community, fearful the zone could become a new haven for terrorists, is backing African efforts to intervene militarily.
The fragility of the interim government and unclear plans to complete the transition are key concerns as plans are finalised to send in a force of some 3,300 troops to drive out the Islamists.© ANP/AFP