UN-chaired panel to visit disputed areas of Bakassi peninsula

UN-chaired panel to visit disputed areas of Bakassi peninsula

A United Nations-chaired panel convened to address the border controversy between Cameroon and Nigeria has decided to dispatch an assessment mission to the disputed Bakassi peninsula in a bid to grasp the issues related to the countries' disagreement.

The mission will visit the affected areas "in order to better understand and appreciate the practical problems it would have to deal with and resolve in the course of the implementation of its mandate," according to a joint communiqué adopted yesterday at the conclusion of the first formal meeting of the "mixed commission" in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The panel also agreed to establish a sub-commission, comprising legal experts and cartographers from Nigeria, Cameroon and the United Nations, responsible for the demarcation of the land boundary between the two countries.

The sub-commission is scheduled to meet before the end of next January to prepare a small-scale map indicating the boundary and to "consider the nature and characteristics of the maps that need to be prepared for the demarcation," the communiqué said. The UN commission also agreed to consider the assignment of UN military liaison officers in both countries at a later date.

The commission, chaired by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Adballah, was formed in response to a ruling in October on the Bakassi dispute by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which essentially awarded Cameroon rights to the oil-rich peninsula. Following the Court's decision, Nigeria asserted that the judgment did not consider "fundamental facts" about the Nigerian inhabitants of the territory, whose "ancestral homes" the ICJ had adjudged to be in Cameroonian territory.

The next meeting of the commission was set for 4 to 5 February in Abuja, Nigeria.