West Africa's mediator in the Mali crisis, Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday said it was imperative for the country to return to democratic rule as soon as possible.
He made the comments a day after Mali's army-dominated legislature approved a plan allowing the military that seized power in August 2020 to stay in office for another five years, despite regional sanctions.
"I cannot say authoritatively because I am not the chair... but because I am the mediator, we feel that five years is too long for a transitional government," said Jonathan, who is due to visit Mali on Thursday.
"I believe ECOWAS may not accept it... we are going to negotiate further with them, and see that they must reduce it," he added.
Jonathan also questioned the legitimacy of Mali's parliament, the National Transitional Council, that was hit by ECOWAS sanctions last November.
"The parliament of Mali is a part of a government of Mali that is an aberration, they are not elected members," he said.
"We have to stop it at the shortest possible time."
Jonathan, who is a former president of Nigeria, was speaking after an ECOWAS workshop in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos.
He chaired a two-day meeting of the "Council of the Wise" that works on "preventive diplomacy" and "conflict prevention" in West Africa.
In a statement, he said the council found that "poor educational systems in the region" were linked to the instability.
It recommended among other steps, "advocacy for better funding for education" as well as "economic and industrial rejuvenation for the region to curb growing unemployment."
For those countries currently in turmoil, Burkina Faso and Guinea, in addition to Mali, Jonathan said "of course bad governance itself (also) needs to be looked at very critically."