Five candidates in Guinea Bissau's aborted presidential election united to condemn last week's coup, as West African delegates arrived for overnight talks with military and political figures.
The April 12 military coup tipped the restive impoverished west African country into fresh chaos and interrupted a second-round presidential vote on April 29.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Monday that a move by the coup leaders to declare a transitional government would only worsen the crisis in the African nation.
Ban will "intensify cooperation" with international governments and bodies to deal with the situation following last Thursday's coup, said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey.
For its part the junta insisted that it was in control of the situation in the west African nation and urged the population not to panic.
The validity of the presidential vote was already in doubt after five candidates, including first-round runner-up Kumba Yala, denounced the results as fraudulent and declared a boycott.
Speaking on behalf of the boycotting candidates, Yala told a press conference: "We firmly condemn the April 12 military uprising and demand the quick return of constitutional order."
Yala came a distant second in the March 18 first-round vote to then-prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, currently being detained by the coup leaders.
Despite international calls for the run-off to go ahead, the army has dissolved all existing institutions and declared a National Transitional Council together with opposition parties.
None of the five candidates who boycotted the presidential vote will participate in the transitional government, Henrique Rosa, one of the candidates, said Monday.
The coup leaders have meanwhile accepted an offer from Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor's outgoing president and Nobel peace prize winner, to act as a mediator in the crisis, according to his advisor.
Guinea-Bissau and East Timor are both former Portuguese colonies.
Ramos-Horta had offered to mediate at the weekend, "and the junta replied and accepted" on Monday, said Jose Meirelles, the president's senior advisor.
"All that remains to be settled is the date he leaves, and the only condition is that nothing bad happens to anyone," he told AFP.
Adding to the efforts for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the crisis, a delegation from the West African ECOWAS bloc flew in late Monday for overnight talks with the coup leaders and, later, several politicians.
The delegation, including ministers and military leaders, made no public statement but was prepared to hold talks throughout the night, according to a source close to the talks.
The delegation, led by ECOWAS Commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, brought a "special message reiterating its rejection of the coup," the 15-nation regional bloc said prior to the visit.
The high-level team was expected to leave again by morning.
The Portuguese-speaking world's two major players, Portugal and Brazil, have asked the UN Security Council to put the Guinea Bissau crisis on its agenda, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said Monday.
Guinea Bissau, a country of 1.6 million people, has a history of military coups and has become a hub in the drug trade between South America and Europe.
Late Monday the army issued a statement saying it "was aware of a panic situation among the population after the military uprising" on April 12 and appealed for "calm because the situation is under the control of the military command and the chief of staff."
It also denounced "rumours" that Guinea-Bissau was under threat of a foreign attack.
Meanwhile dozens of families were reported trying to leave the capital Bissau for fear of an eruption of violence.
The junta had announced Sunday it was closing all air and sea borders, after Portugal said it was sending navy ships and a plane for possible evacuation of its nationals.
The country's main labour union called a general strike Monday to protest the coup.
Many offices and banks in the capital were closed, though small businesses were still open.
"No one is working," Stevon Gomis, secretary general of the Guinea Bissau National Workers' Union (UNTG), told AFP. "We will stay home until there's a government in place."© ANP/AFP