Hundreds of participants on a Malian national dialogue panel on Friday recommended that military rulers, who took power in 2020, stay in control for several years, according to a statement read on state television.

They also said that when elections were eventually held, junta chief Colonel Assimi Goita should be a candidate for the presidency.

A major part of the opposition boycotted the dialogue, accusing the army officers of exploiting it to stay in power.

The West African nation has been ruled by juntas since back-to-back coups in 2020 and 2021, with the military promising to hand over power through the ballot box in February.

But they have postponed elections indefinitely, citing a precarious security situation aggravated by jihadist attacks.

In April, military authorities suspended all party political activities after muzzling opponents, journalists and human rights activists.

Goita has insisted that the dialogue had been "entirely inclusive" in line with his wish for all Malians to "take part and express themselves freely".