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Guinea-Bissau "ashamed" of incompetent image: president

by Staff Writers
Bissau (AFP) Aug 19, 2010
Guinea-Bissau's President Malam Bacai Sanha said Thursday that citizens of the chronically unstable west African nation were ashamed of being considered incapable of solving their own problems.

Sanha was addressing the opening of a six-month national reconciliation conference which brings together government, the military, civil society, political parties and the diplomatic corps.

"We are not animals but human beings who know what they want, men who know how to build a peaceful, stable nation. We are ashamed of being seen as people incapable of finding solutions to the problems in their country," said Sanha.

The conference will reflect on "ways to build peace and development" in Guinea-Bissau.

"There is no fundamental contradiction between Bissau-Guineans, but rather a lack of dialogue. We cannot solve our problems if we do not talk," Serifo Nhamadjo, vice president of the national assembly and conference coordinator told AFP.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 as the military and politicians struggle for power, eroding legal institutions and making it an attractive transit point for drugs from Latin America destined for Europe.

In March 2009 president Joao Bernardo Vieira was murdered by troops, apparently in revenge for the killing hours earlier of the armed forces chief.

In April deputy army chief (now chief of staff) General Antonio Indjai led a mutiny, arresting and threatening to kill Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior -- but the presumed coup was later played down as an internal army issue.

Guinea-Bissau's top army brass earlier this month backed a government plan to allow a foreign mission to help stabilise the country.

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