Cameroon and Nigeria are set to transfer authority over two contested areas as part of the continuing process to settle their border dispute, the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) said today.
In a ceremony tomorrow Bourha-Wango and Ndabakura and its surroundings will be turned over to Nigeria, while Cameroon will assume control of Narki. Observers of the Mixed Commission, set up by the UN in late 2002 to help settle the dispute, will be deployed in the area to reinforce the process.
Last December, the two countries carried out the first transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area.
As was the case in the Lake Chad area, UNOWA said, the populations of the cities and localities concerned speak the same languages and have constantly repeated their rejection of war. They expressed their support for the decision taken by Presidents Paul Biya of Cameroon and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to implement the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) governing the settlement.
In the next few weeks, talks on the withdrawal from the Bakassi Peninsula will carry on, to be followed by further discussions on the delimitation of the maritime border between the two countries, UNOWA said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, noted that the two countries' Governments seem determined to pursue a peaceful approach to settle their border dispute.
"It is the right decision at the right time and for the right reasons," he said. "The Nigerian Presidency of African Union and the upcoming elections in Cameroon encourage even more a speedy settlement of this old dispute."