UN Cameroon-Nigeria commission close to finishing field visits in disputed areas

26 February 2004

The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, set up by the United Nations to peacefully resolve their border dispute, has nearly completed its field visits to the contested land boundary between the countries and the Bakassi Peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea.

Two Commission sub-committees have been visiting villages in the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula since Tuesday and expect to complete their work by Saturday.

Earlier, the sub-committees toured the land boundary's mountainous area, visiting villages and talking to local authorities and community members on both sides of the border.

This area includes portions of territory that must be transferred from Cameroon to Nigeria under a 2002 ruling on the dispute by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Secretary-General Kofi Annan set up the Commission in 2002, at the request of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Paul Biya of Cameroon, to try to resolve the countries' long-running border quarrel and implement the ICJ ruling.

The UN Office for West Africa said the Commission is seen as an innovative mechanism for resolving disputes and engaging in preventive diplomacy. It is comprised of delegations from both countries and is chaired by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Mr. Annan's Special Representative for West Africa.

Cameroon and Nigeria dispute sovereignty over their land boundary, stretching from Lake Chad to the sea, their maritime boundary, and the Bakassi Peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea. But they have agreed to a process of troop withdrawal and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area.

The next meeting of the Mixed Commission will be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 6-7 April.


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