But in an interview to Portuguese radio from the Nigerian capital of Abuja where he is stranded, President Fradique de Menezes ruled out any military intervention by Nigeria to restore his democratically elected government.

The deposed president was eyeing diplomatic support instead during the day.

He has already met Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and was expected to meet with Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano.

“We are still open to negotiations. We want to solve this through dialogue. The use of force would be a very last resort,” De Menezes’ spokesman Guillaume Neto said.

Uneasy Calm

But a day after the coup in which soldiers grabbed power and took several top government officials into custody, Sao Tome appeared calm with people going about business as usual and the main market functioning normally.

The airport however remained closed, stranding several groups of tourists on the twin-island state.

Meanwhile, coup leader, Major Fernando Pereira on Thursday said the ministers being held would be released only once adequate security conditions were in place.

In Portugal, eight foreign ministers of Portuguese-speaking countries discussed the crisis.  Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz said Lisbon was working “quietly” in search of dialogue and “building bridges.”

A country of 170,00, Sao Tome has been mired in poverty and corruption. 

After taking over the country in a pre-dawn coup, its leaders insisted it was to save the country from ruin.