Guinea-Bissau 'ashamed of incompetent reputation'

image captionGuinea-Bissau's small, often uninhabited, islands are handy smuggling points for drug traffickers

Guinea-Bissau's President Malam Bacai Sanha has said his citizens are ashamed of being thought incapable of solving the coup-ridden nation's problems.

"We are not animals, but human beings who know what they want, men who know how to build a peaceful, stable nation," AFP quoted him as saying.

He was talking at the opening of a national reconciliation conference.

Next month West Africa's regional body is to hold an emergency meeting about deploying troops to Guinea-Bissau.

The current Ecowas chairman, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, has said the organisation has the capacity to send the 600 soldiers requested by Mr Sanha's government.

In recent years, the tiny West African nation has become a major transit hub for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to Europe, and has suffered much political unrest as a result.

"We are ashamed of being seen as people incapable of finding solutions to the problems in their country," said Mr Sanha, who came to power in elections last year following the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira.

Days after a mutiny in April, in which the army chief was ousted, two top military officers were named by the US as "drug kingpins", and had their US-based assets frozen.

And earlier this month, the EU said it was ending its mission to reform Guinea-Bissau's security forces because law and order had deteriorated.

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