September 8, 2010 / 5:11 PM / 9 years ago

Guinea Bissau turns to Angola to help reform army

* Guinea Bissau seeks Angola support to reform army

* Tiny African island state troubled by coups, drugs

* Guinea Bissau PM to arrive in Luanda on Thursday

LUANDA, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Guinea Bissau asked Angola on Wednesday to help it reform its armed forces in a bid to end coups and drug trafficking that has plagued the tiny west African state since independence from Portugal in 1974. “We hope that the Angolan army will help us develop our military,” said Guinea Bissau army chief General Antonio Indjai after meeting with his Angolan counterpart in Luanda.

The comment was broadcast on state-owned Radio Nacional de Angola.

Indjai is seen by analysts as fuelling military instability in Guinea Bissau after leading an army mutiny on April 1 that ousted the former military chief and briefly detained Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior.

Gomes Junior is expected to arrive in Angola on Thursday for talks with the Angolan government on ways to reform his nation’s army, Portuguese Lusa news agency reported.

Both nations are former Portuguese colonies. Angola emerged from a civil war in 2002 with one of Africa’s biggest armies.

The talks between Angola and Guinea Bissau take place before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) holds an emergency meeting next week to discuss sending troops to stabilise Guinea Bissau.

United Nations officials say Guinea Bissau’s tiny scattered islands have become a hub for the drug trade between Latin America and Europe. Billions of dollars worth of cocaine are believed to pass through the impoverished state each year.

A number of political slayings last year, including that of Guinea-Bissau’s president, army chief and a presidential candidate, are likely linked to the trade, they said. (Reporting by Henrique Almeida; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Angus MacSwan)

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