West African leaders are pushing for the military junta controlling Mali to hand over power within a year.
The regional bloc also wants the coup leaders to appoint a civilian head of government to oversee a transition back to democracy.
But the junta which toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has said the political transition will last at least two years.
ECOWAS is however not willing to accept such a proposal from the coup leaders.
“ECOWAS will not accept any transition longer than twelve calendar months,” an internal report by mediators dispatched to the Malian capital Bamako last week said, according to Reuters reporting.
The report, not published by ECOWAS but posted on several websites, also requires that civilians fill the posts of both president and prime minister.
“The onus is on the (junta) to provide assurance on a quick return to political normalcy through a credible process. This would facilitate the process for the lifting of sanctions,” the mediators’ report also said.
On Thursday, the ousted President Keïta was released from detention and was now at his home, according to the junta ruling the country.
The soldiers who toppled his government promised to release him but restrain him to his residence.
Keita was arrested last week during the military takeover and then forced to resign as president.
The ousted president was released following negotiations with Ecowas mediators and other international organisations, including the African Union and European Union.
Keita “was freed this morning, (and) he has returned to his home”, a spokesman for the junta Djibrilla Maiga has said on Thursday.
Mali is facing growing isolation from global organizations following this month’s military coup.