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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 19:24 GMT
Cameroon-Nigeria talks inch forward
Fishing village in Bakassi
Bakassi is inhabited by Nigerian fishermen
Talks between Nigeria and Cameroon, chaired by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, have ended without a final agreement in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The presidents of the two countries were attempting to resolve a dispute over an oil-rich section of their border, the Bakassi peninsula, which was awarded to Cameroon last month by the International Court of Justice.


This is important forward progress

Sir Kieren Prendregast, UN official
At the end of the discussions Mr Annan said both sides had agreed to a further presidential meeting and to establishing a commission to look at the issue.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told reporters that his country had neither accepted nor rejected the Court's decision.

Both presidents promised to pursue a peaceful settlement of their dispute.

'Progress'

In spite of the fact that no final agreement was reached, the UN has welcomed what was achieved by the two sides in Geneva on Friday.

"They agreed to identify a number of confidence-building measures which will help to resolve many of the issues," Sir Kieren Prendregast, an aide of Mr Annan in Geneva, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"This is important forward progress," he said.

He said that the mixed commission would look at all the implications of the decision, including the protection of the rights of the affected populations in both countries.

The commission will also demarcate the land border between the two countries.

Occupation

The Bakassi peninsula is currently occupied by the military forces of Nigeria, which has said it will continue to defend the rights of its citizens living in the swampy land mass jutting out into the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

Apart from the soldiers, the Bakassi peninsula is home to a host of small fishing communities, most of whom consider themselves to be Nigerian.

The Nigerian Government claims the international court ruling failed to take into account that most of the inhabitants of the Bakassi area are Nigerians.

But the BBC's Dan Isaacs in Lagos says the actual border between Cameroon and Nigeria has never been clearly defined.

A confusion of colonial boundary settlements was further complicated in the 1970s by the apparent gift of the land to Cameroon by a Nigerian military leader in appreciation for Cameroon's neutrality during the Biafran civil war.

The international court ruling was supposed to resolve the situation.

In a complex judgement it awarded some land along the common border to Nigeria, but the crucial Bakassi land mass went to Cameroon, creating an uproar within Nigeria.


Key stories

YOUR VIEWS
 VOTE RESULTS
Cameroon / Nigeria border ruling: Was it the right decision?

Yes
 44.91% 

No
 55.09% 

11050 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

12 Nov 02 | Africa
29 Oct 02 | Africa
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