(File image) Fighters from the Islamic militant group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) in the northern Malian city of Gao.

Bamako -

Hundreds of people marched Saturday in the Malian capital Bamako to support the transitional government, which faces an Islamist rebellion in the north.

Most of Mali's north has been occupied by armed groups since March after a military coup created a power vacuum.

Mali has since been divided between supporters and rivals of former President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was ousted on March 22

by mutinous troops angry at his handling of a rebellion in the north that started a few month earlier.

Young Malians marched to Kwame Nkrumah Square in Bamako hoisting banners reading: “Do not touch my government. Do not touch my prime minister.”

“There are people who want to sabotage the government's actions while we young people are satisfied with what they do,” Mahamadou Sidibe, a spokesman of the protesters told dpa.

“We need to support them instead of criticizing them. Mali needs to unite its efforts to liberate the occupied areas.”

A national dialogue conference will be held December 11-13 to draw a roadmap out of the crisis.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday recommended that the Security Council authorize the deployment of 3,300 African Union (AU) troops in Mali for an initial period of one year to help the government recapture the north.

The Security Council is expected to vote soon on the plan drawn up by the Economic Community of West African States, a regional group, and the AU. - Sapa-dpa