No decision on Cameroon-Nigeria dispute over Bakassi Peninsula – UN

22 October 2004

A United Nations commission set up to help Cameroon and Nigeria to implement a World Court judgment on the demarcation of their land and maritime boundaries has decided to refer the dispute over the resource-rich Bakassi Peninsula back to the two countries’ leaders and Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Nigeria was to have pulled out of the area but that move was put on hold the day before the 15 September deadline. The Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, stressed at the time of the postponement that Cameroon’s sovereignty in that area was not disputed, but “the planned operation may be delayed due to unexpected technical difficulties.”

In a communiqué released Friday at the end of the two-day meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, the Commission said the handover was discussed but as a result of a “divergence of views,” it decided to return the matter to Presidents Paul Biya of Cameroon and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mr. Annan.

Yesterday in his opening statement, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that with the delay in the transfer of authority of the Bakassi Peninsula, the Commission faced a real test on whether African States were ready to abide by the rule of law.

He also reported that tranquillity prevailed in the Lake Chad and land boundary areas where the transfers of authority have already taken place.

“Populations affected by the decision have adjusted and integrated remarkably well to their new environment. Reports of the Mixed Commission observers indicate that there have been no major problems and that constitutes a matter of great satisfaction to all of us,” he said.

Regarding the maritime boundary, he said submissions by both Cameroon and Nigeria were being considered by both parties.